Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ohio Republican Party
The Ohio Republican Party, the Ohio state affiliate of the United States Republican Party, controls all the elected statewide offices in Ohio as well as both houses of the Ohio General Assembly, the state legislature. Robert T. Bennett has been chairman of the Ohio GOP since 1988.
From the Civil War era, Ohio politics was dominated by the Republican party, with Ohio Republicans playing key roles in the national party. In the 60 years from 1860 to 1920, Ohioans headed the Republican presidential ticket nine times, losing only once (in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt split the party). Ohio Republicans such as Salmon P. Chase staffed many important national offices. Starting in the 1880s, Ohio's Marcus A. Hanna was a significant power in the back rooms of the national Republican party. In the 1890s, Hanna led the conservative wing of the party against Theodore Roosevelt's progressive movement.
The national political upheaval that ushered in the New Deal era in the 1930s benefitted the Ohio Democratic Party and party politics in Ohio became very competitive, with Republicans and Democrats trading victories at all levels. However, on a national level, Ohio Democrats did not play a key role, while Ohio Republicans still cut national figures. The prime example of such a figure was Robert Taft, known as "Mr. Republican," the leader of the conservative wing of the Republican party during a time when liberals controlled both major parties.
From the 1930s to the 1970s, Republicans still won the larger share of elective offices in Ohio. However, another national liberalizing trend in the 1960s gave the Ohio Democrats another boost. In addition, a series of rulings by the United States Supreme Court required state legislatures to end the practice of giving disproportionate electoral power to rural areas. The equalization of legislative districts shifted the advantage to the Ohio Democrats, who were strong in Ohio's many large urban centers. By the mid-1980s, Ohio government at all levels was dominated by Democrats.
However, just as Democrats were reaching their peak, the Ohio Republican party was staging a comeback, and by 1990, the Republicans had won a majority on the Ohio Apportionment Board, which draws district lines for federal and state legislative seats. The 1992 adoption of term limits by referendum further strengthened the party's hand and 1992 marked the last victory by a Democrat (John Glenn) in a statewide race.
By 2004, Republicans hold all six statewide executive offices (governor/lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, and treasurer), a two-thirds majority in the state senate and house, a 5-2 majority on the supreme court, both seats in the U.S. Senate, and 12 of Ohio's 18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Current State of the Party
Despite, or perhaps because of, the party's spectacular successes since the mid-1980s, the Ohio Republicans are now beset by extensive infighting and bad blood between party members, perhaps as bad as the situation in the Ohio Democratic Party. Redistricting after the 2000 census combined with Ohio's term limits laws had Republican officeholders at the federal and state levels struggling with each other to draw federal congressional districts to create safe seats, with the interests of incumbent U.S. representatives clashing with the interests of state legislators facing term limits looking to Congress for their next jobs.
Joe Hallett wrote in the Columbus Dispatch (January 13, 2002):
"Redistricting should be a happy process for Republicans. ... But the task has hardly been gleeful. Contrarily, it has turned into an embarrassment for Republicans ... Eight-year term limits, more than the state budget, are to blame. These days, state lawmakers constantly are scouting their next jobs. ... [V]isions of Congress dance in their heads. They want districts ready-made for their ascensions. Meanwhile, congressional incumbents constantly angle for districts they can't possibly lose."
The problem for the Republican party is that jury-rigging a sure thing for one party member requires putting another party member on shaky ground -- about 43 percent of the voters voted for Democrats in 2000; it is a delicate balance ensuring that their votes count as little as possible in the results.
Term limits, which were pushed by conservative Republican activists in the 1980s, have come back to bite the party. They forced the retirement of Republican Speaker Jo Ann Davidson (R-Columbus) from the House of Representatives in 2001 as well as the leader of the conservative wing of the party, Deputy Speaker William G. Batchelder (R-Medina).
In 2001, such soon-to-be-jobless Republicans salivated after the U.S. House of Representatives seats held by Democrats Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland, and pressured the legislature to gerrymander their districts for Republican majorities. However, when Brown threatened to run for governor in 2002 if he lost his seat through redistricting, the Republican leadership backed down, preferring not to make Governor Taft, whose popularity among Ohioans has always been shaky, face possibly serious competition for re-election. As it happened, Taft was challenged by the weakly funded and name-recognition-challenged Cuyahoga County commissioner Tim Hagan. Both Brown and Strickland managed to hold onto their congressional seats.
The complete domination of the Republican party at the general election has thrown the real competition to the Republican primaries (such as was once the case for Democratic primaries in the solid South). However, it is not the case that the common voter is any more likely to vote in the Republican primaries than before. The result is that the Republican primaries are controlled by the votes of right-wing activists, such as the Ohio Taxpayers Association , which declares which candidates are "real" Republicans.
The state of the party has prompted some to conclude that the party organization's ability to help the Bush re-election campaign in 2004 has been hampered.
Current Republican Officeholders
Prominent Republican officeholders include:
- Governor of Ohio Robert A. Taft II, a centrist-conservative. His term ends in 2007 and he is barred by term limits laws from running for a third consecutive term. He previously served as Ohio Secretary of State. Taft's popularity has taken a nosedive during his second term and it is unknown what his next political goal will be. Taft has drawn the criticism of the conservative wing of his party, led by Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and the split between Taft and the conservatives have threatened to harm the Republican's prospects in 2004. Democrats, such as the AFL-CIO's William Burga have added fuel to the fire by stating that Taft is much more amenable to compromise than was his predecessor, George Voinovich.
- U.S. Sen. Michael DeWine, a conservative. Former U.S. representative and Lieutenant Governor of Ohio DeWine was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994. His seat is up for re-election in 2006. It is presumed that he will stand for re-election to a third term.
- U.S. Sen. George V. Voinovich, a moderate-conservative. Former Governor of Ohio and Cleveland mayor. He easily defeated Ohio State Senator Eric D. Fingerhut in 2004 for a second term.
- Lieutenant Governor of Ohio Bruce Johnson, appointed by Governor Taft in 2005.
- Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell, a former Charterite Cincinnati mayor, is planning to run for the governorship in 2006. Blackwell, who was then the state treasurer, had planned to run for the governorship in 1998, but under pressure from Bennett, he chose instead to run for secretary of state, leaving the governorship open to Bob Taft. Blackwell is a traditional fiscal conservative and has often clashed with Taft over the issue of balancing the state budget. Blackwell, an African American, has often crticized his party for misusing its control of the Ohio Apportionment Board by packing minority voters into as few districts as possible in order to ensure as large a Republican majority as possible in the General Assembly. Such packing, Blackwell warns, prevents the Republican party from paying attention to, and attracting, more black voters.
- Ohio Attorney General James M. Petro is planning to run for governor in 2006. He is supported by Speaker Larry Householder for his bid for the Republican nomination against Ken Blackwell and Betty Montgomery.
- Ohio State Treasurer Jennette Bradley, who was elected lieutenant governor in 2002 and was appointed treasurer in 2005.
- Ohio State Auditor Betty D. Montgomery is planning to run for governor in 2006.
- President of the Ohio State Senate Doug White is barred by term limits laws from running for another term. It is believed that Bill Harris will replace him as the Republican leader in the senate.
- Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Larry Householder is planning to run for auditor in 2006. He and Ken Blackwell, who is also interested in the governorship, have clashed publicly numerous times. It was discovered that Householder had drafted a secret plan to sabotage Blackwell's political future. The issue was Blackwell's wish to repeal a temporary sales tax increase. The 106-page document described Blackwell as "the Enron of Ohio politics, proped up and overvalued, a fraud.". Blackwell has also called for Householder's resignation in connection with a federal investigation into Householder's fund-raising activities.
- U.S. representatives:
- Ralph S. Regula is the No. 2 majority member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. In January 2004, it was reported that Regula refused to allow any appropriations to be spent in the district of conservative Democratic U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall of Texas, simply on the basis that Hall was a Democrat. This action prompted Hall to switch to the Republican party.
- Deborah D. Pryce is chairwoman of the Legislative and Budget Process Subcommittee and a member of the House Rules Committee. She is also the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.
- John A. Boehner is chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee
- Paul E. Gillmor, a former President of the Ohio Senate , is chairman of the Environment and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee
- Steve Chabot is chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee
- Robert J. Portman
- Michael R. Turner, former mayor of Dayton
- Michael G. Oxley is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee
- David L. Hobson is the chairman of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee
- Patrick J. Tiberi
- Steven C. LaTourette is a member of the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee and chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Managemetn Subcommittee. LaTourette is considered vulnerable in his re-election bid in 2004 as the result of the publicization of his extramarital affair with a lobbyist (a former staffer). LaTourette's estranged wife is openly supporting his Democratic opponent, Capri Cafaro.
- Robert W. Ney is chairman of the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee
- Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court Thomas J. Moyer
- Associate Justices:
- Paul E. Pfeifer, a former member of the Ohio Senate, who has no Democratic opponent for re-election in 2004. Pfeifer and Andy Douglas, though Republicans, often joined the Democratic minority on the court to oppose the court's conservative bloc. This Sweeney-Resnick -Pfeifer-Douglas activist majority ended when Douglas retired from the court.
- Terrence O'Donnell, who must win an election in 2004 in order to keep his seat
- Maureen O'Connor, a former governor of Ohio
- Evelyn Lundberg Stratton
Prominent Ohio Republicans in the Past
- Salmon P. Chase: U.S. senator, Governor of Ohio, United States Secretary of the Treasury, Chief Justice of the United States
- Rutherford B. Hayes: U.S. representative, Governor of Ohio, President of the United States
- William McKinley: U.S. representatove, Governor of Ohio, President of the United States
- John W. Bricker: Ohio Attorney General, Governor of Ohio, U.S. senator, Republican nominnee for Vice President of the United States
- C. William O'Neill: Ohio Attorney General, Governor of Ohio, Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court
- James A. Rhodes: mayor of Columbus, Ohio, Ohio State Auditor, Governor of Ohio, candidate for Republican nomination for President of the United States (1964, 1968), candidate for Republcian nomination to the United States Senate
- Warren G. Harding: U.S. senator, Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, President of the United States
- Benjamin F. Wade: U.S. senator, a Radical Republican, President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
- James A. Garfield: president of the United States
- Ulysses S. Grant: commander of Union forces in the Civil War; president of the United States
- Benjamin Harrison: president of the United States
- William H. Taft I: president of the United States, chief justice of the United States
- William B. Saxbe: U.S. senator, U.S. attorney general, ambassador to India
- John Sherman: U.S. representative, United States Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. senator, chairman of the Senate Republcian Conference , United States Secretary of State, author of the Sherman Antitrust Act
- Alphonso Taft: U.S. secretary of war
- Robert A. Taft I: Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, U.S. senator, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, candidate for Republican nomination for President of the United States (1940, 1948, 1952)
- Harold H. Burton: Ohio state representative, mayor of Cleveland, U.S. senator, associate justice of the United STates Supreme Court
- Simeon D. Fess: U.S. representative, U.S. senator
- Nicholas Longworth: speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Potter Stewart: justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
- Marcus A. Hanna: U.S. senator
- Kingsley A. Taft: U.S. senator, chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court
- Robert Taft Jr.: U.S. senator
Ohio Republicans use the same symbols used by the national Republican party, such as the elephant. However, the traditional symbol of the party in state and local elections is the eagle.
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