Joe Hallett says that the TEA Party and the GOP Should get divorced – I say not if we want to win!

If you have not already read Joe Hallett’s Column in Today’s Columbus Dispatch, then you should. Just click here to read it.  What you will read is exactly what the wrong headed “advisers” that surround the Governor want you to believe. It’s all the unreasonable TEA Party’s fault. These are the geniuses who stumbled so badly on SB5 and are now the architects of the destruction of the Governor himself, and the Ohio Republican Party, through implementation Medicaid Expansion. Despite what they and the newspapers try to sell you, Medicaid Expansion does not “improve Ohioan’s health”, is not paid for by the Federal Government because they will have to borrow money our children will never be able to pay back to fund it, it does not save Ohio Tax payers $400 million it will cost us billions, it will destroy private practice physicians reducing health care quality for everyone, it raise insurance premiums in our state by 81%. None of which the people of Ohio want.

None the less, Joe’s column basically reinforces what I wrote to explain to you on Friday. You, the ORP Central Committee, are going to make a decision on April 26th that will either save or destroy the Ohio Republican Party.  What Joe misses, and what I explained to you, is that it is NOT just the TEA Party that is ready to walk, it’s also the Religious Right which has already walked, and fiscal conservatives, and moderate Republicans who can’t make it any clearer that they don’t want ObamaCare and who are trying to bring our Governor back to our core values.  Here is a quote from another Dispatch Story:

“I don’t think the interest groups backing the expansion understood how the label Obamacare resonates with Republican voters,” said an independent lobbyist with health-care clients who spoke only on condition of anonymity. “To them, Obamacare is like abortion. For Republicans, this isn’t a policy issue, it’s a core philosophical belief.”

Pretty hard to understand how the Governor’s staff got that one wrong and Joe doesn’t factor this into his column. The problem is not just the TEA Party is it?  So, let me say this as clearly as I can, I am the one trying to save the party. The Governor’s staff is fracturing the Party.  I am running for Chairman, because I want to unify all of our coalition partners and I can do that, with one caveat.

If the Governor’s staff is successful in forcing Medicaid Expansion into the budget, it’s over. The Governor will be primaried, the Governor will face a third party challenge, and tens of thousands of conservative grassroots activist will throw all their effort into a third party candidate and the result will be that we all lose.  You and I must do everything we can to keep that from happening.  You know why?  Because the grassroots activists are not the rubes that the Governor’s boys want you to believe they are, and they will make good on their threats.  One just has to look at the fight in the House in the past 45 days to get Medicaid and the new taxes out of the Budget. Let me quote from another Dispatch Article:

“I’ve never seen a governor, particularly when he has both branches of the legislature and that much support from these kinds of groups, not get what he wants,” said Terry Fleming, who has lobbied at the Statehouse for 33 years, now as an independent.

While tea party groups claimed credit for killing the Medicaid expansion allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act, others said it failed because of an ingrained hatred of Obamacare across GOP constituencies

Read that quote carefully. What just happened in the House is very unusual, even historic. Just like the Ohio Health Care Amendment was historic – you know that other unlikely success by those “TEA Party People.”  Please also note the phrase “across GOP constituencies.”  Not just TEA Party members, moderate Republicans, religious republicans.  Isn’t understanding the voters what the consultants gets paid millions to know? Why don’t they?

What really happened is that anti-Obamacare republican base and the TEA Party just beat the consultants and their millions of dollars from the Hospital Association, the insurance companies and every other group with their hand out to get more of our tax payer dollars. People can do the math and they know the money will be coming from them.  The grassroots are not what the high paid advisors and the media tell you they are. I know them. They are more educated than the general population, they are successful businessmen and farmers and professionals. They are dedicated to their God, to their family, to their state and to their country and they have and will put their own personal wealth, health and lives on the line to defend the Constitution.  While Republican’s keep hiring out of touch losing consultants, the grassroots are learning from the pros in the progressive movement, and are already light years ahead. Talk to the Ohio House members, they will tell you that this is no idle threat.

I am running for Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party because I know that if we want to defeat the “regressive” left, we need these grassroots people on our side – not fighting against us.  That is how we won in 2010 and almost won in 2012 and can win in 2014 and 2016. We need the Religious right on our side not staying at home. We need to provide them the support and structure to practice what they preach and vote accordingly. That is how we won in 2000 and 2004. We need to build a Republican Party organization that get’s moderate Republicans up off the couch and independents into the battle with us. We need to grow our base and we must not write off anyone. My proven experience, and my contacts, make me uniquely qualified to accomplish these critical goals.

As I told Senator Portman in a recent email, while we play petty politics, the other side wages war.  We need to build a Republican Party that can not only fight the war but win it.  I will build an Ohio Republican Party in which every County Chairperson is a full time employee, because you can’t fight the left’s full time employees everyday with volunteers. This will cost a lot of money, but my 30 years of experience raising millions of dollars, and our long history of getting support from those loyal to the party will enable us to get that done. I will build an ORP where every county central committee has the support it needs to have a website and facebook page that is professionally managed. Those will be part of a statewide media network that will enable us to stream live video to our constituents whenever we want.  I will build an ORP that is second to none in marketing and messaging in which every Republican is involved in, and aware of, the decisions we make so that they can be our ambassadors on the ground in their communities. We must, and I will build, an ORP in which we do not wait for elections to win votes, but instead build a base of support across the state so that our candidates do not have to start from scratch each election. Instead they will only need to raise enough money to focus on gaining the few extra point in the election they need to win. I will bring all the members of our coalition together and make sure that their voices are heard and their ideas are considered. I will build an Ohio Republican Party that has integrity and treats all of our members fairly and with respect.

Let me conclude by saying that I am not doing this because I need a job. I do not.  Sometimes you find yourself in a particular place, at a particular time, when something has to be done and you have to do it, or a lot of people are going to get hurt.  This is that case.  Joe Hallet is mistaken. The TEA Party is not the John Birch Society and throwing it away will not solve our problem. They and all of our coalition partners are critical to our being successful. Our job is to provide leadership that assures everyone that they have a respected role within our Party. That is what I intend to do.


Tom Zawistowski
Candidate for Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party
1-800-8464-630 Ext 104

p.s. – You can see my full interview on the PBS State of Ohio Program at this link


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