COLUMBUS (AP) – The co-chairman of the Republican National Committee chastised one of the party’s Ohio governor candidates on Thursday for an ad he called “false and misleading” and disputed her claim to assume President Donald Trump’s mantle.
In a statement issued amid a particularly nasty GOP primary, Robert Paduchik said he was disappointed in Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and an ad launched this week by the pro-Taylor super PAC Onward Ohio.
The 30-second spot attacks the record of Attorney General Mike DeWine, Taylor’s gubernatorial opponent, on immigration, guns and trade. It suggests DeWine’s positions align with Democrats’ while Taylor’s align with Trump’s. DeWine’s campaign has labeled the ad “completely false.”
“Lt. Governor Mary Taylor was missing in action during the 2016 campaign and her supporter’s claims for the ‘Trump’ mantle are based on political opportunism in direct conflict with years of silence and inaction,” said Paduchik, who led Trump’s Ohio campaign in 2016.
Paduchik said DeWine, the party’s endorsed candidate, “has been a steadfast supporter of President Trump’s policy agenda for regulatory reform, border security, and ending sanctuary cities.” He said Ohio will be the most important state in the 2018 midterm elections and in Trump’s re-election, and DeWine would be a governor “who stands up for our conservative values and President Trump when it matters.”
Taylor’s campaign pushed back against the Paduchik letter.
“Mike DeWine and his D.C. Swamp cronies are once again trying the oldest political establishment trick in the book: name calling and slander to distract from a 40-plus year liberal record,” spokesman Michael Duchesne said in an email statement. “It’s all he has because he’s afraid to stand up and face Mary Taylor on a debate stage where he won’t be able to hide what he’s done.”
The faceoff comes in an already busy week for both campaigns. DeWine announced a statewide ad campaign and website Tuesday aimed at attacking Taylor as “Unfit, Unqualified.” A day later, a newly created Twitter account associated with DeWine’s campaign accused Taylor of breaking the law.
“Hey @MaryTaylorOH!” tweeted @MaryDoesntWork. “When you abuse your power and fly around on a state plane for personal use, it’s not conservative – it’s criminal. #OHGov #LockHerUp #RINO.”
A leading Democratic contender in the race, former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray, lamented the return of a phrase used against Hillary Clinton, Democrats’ 2016 presidential nominee.
“So here we go. I now see Mike DeWine is calling Mary Taylor a ‘criminal’ and bellowing to ‘lock her up,'” Cordray tweeted Thursday. “My questions are, is there no decency in politics anymore? And even if there is no decency, is there no originality? This is both lame and unedifying.”
Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, an outspoken Trump detractor, is term-limited and unable to seek re-election.