Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop, Feb. 18, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C.
Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Trump, easily distracted, picks proxy fight with Ohio’s Kasich

When it comes to Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), Donald Trump hasn’t been shy about his feelings. When Kasich skipped the Republican National Convention – held in his own home state – and refused to back his party’s national ticket, Trump fumed, vowing to create a super PAC to undermine the governor’s future career.

Maybe Trump would shift his focus to more important matters after winning the election? Apparently not.

During his self-congratulatory tour, Trump took shots at Kasich, and this week, the Cincinnati Inquirer reports that the president-elect has even taken an interest in the Ohio governor’s preferred candidates in the race for the state party leadership.
On Friday, Donald Trump and Gov. John Kasich will face off in their latest proxy battle for the hearts and minds of Ohio Republicans – and the president-elect himself on Thursday entered the fray.

Trump supporter Jane Timken, a Cincinnati native and Walnut Hills High School graduate, is challenging Kasich-backed incumbent Matt Borges for the Ohio Republican Party’s top spot.

On Thursday, Trump himself called several Southwest Ohioans who have a vote in the race for chairperson, pushing for Timken’s election. [emphasis added]
A local Republican activist told the newspaper, “This is the leader-of-the-free-world-to-be, and you would think of all the appointments that he’s doing and all the people he’s filling his cabinet with and getting ready for the inauguration, why would he take the time out to call me?”

That’s actually an excellent question – which need not be rhetorical. Why is the president-elect interrupting his transition schedule to call local GOP activists in Ohio in advance of state party leadership races?

This story, from three weeks before Election Day, helps provide some useful context.
Donald Trump’s campaign announced a split Saturday with the chairman of the Republican party in the key battleground state of Ohio.

The GOP presidential nominee’s Ohio campaign director said the break was a result of what Trump himself considers Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges’ “duplicity.”

“I spoke with Mr. Trump on Thursday and he is very disappointed in Matt’s duplicity,” Trump Ohio Director Bob Paduchik wrote in a letter to members of the state GOP central committee, which elects the chairman.

“Mr. Trump told me, ‘This is why people have lost faith in the establishment and party leaders.’ I have to agree with him. Too often some leaders of our party have been quick to bail on candidates and principles – it’s why our nation is on the wrong track,” Paduchik wrote.
As it turns out, the intra-party drama was inconsequential, and despite having supported President Obama, Ohio voters backed Trump by a fairly comfortable margin.

But Trump holds a grudge – against Kasich and the governor’s choice to lead the state Republican Party.

Mother Jones’ David Corn reported a few months ago, “Revenge – it’s a big part of Trump’s life…. Why all the insults, bullying, and grudge matches? There is a reason. Trump fervently believes in retaliation…. [He] has said numerous times that he is driven by revenge and that it is a basic tool to use in business. He is obsessed with payback. In speeches and public talks, Trump has repeatedly expressed his fondness for retribution.”

That may seem like an awful quality in a national leader, but here we are.

Ohio Republicans will hold their leadership election today.