Kasich’s Exit Disappoints Mahoning County Republicans

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Donald Trump has Tracey Winbush’s vote for president now that Gov. John Kasich has ended his quest for the Republican Party nomination, but he’ll have to earn her active support, she said Wednesday afternoon.

Winbush, vice-chairwoman of the Mahoning County Republican Party and treasurer of the Ohio Republican Party, said she would vote for Trump but the presumptive GOP nominee “is going to have to earn my respect.”

Trump made statements during the primary campaign that were “very insensitive and rude” regarding people of color and women, Winbush, who is black and female, said. He needs to prove that he won’t be rude and abrasive, and that he can “govern everyone equally,” she added.

“I can’t go out and speak on his behalf if I don’t believe in him. If I go out and do that, that would make me disingenuous,” she remarked.

Winbush, who stumped for Kasich, lamented the governor’s decision to suspend his campaign.

“I wish that he had stayed in and won,” she said. “I think he would have made a great president but the people have spoken.”

Kasich, Trump’s last remaining rival for the GOP nomination, officially suspended his campaign shortly after 5 p.m. in Columbus. The night before, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas ended his bid following his loss to the business mogul in Indiana’s primary.

“I have always said that the Lord has a purpose for me as he has for everyone,” Kasich said during the televised announcement. “And as I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith, that the Lord will show me the way forward and fulfill the purpose of my life.”

During his remarks, Kasich reflected on his experiences and the people he encountered during the campaign he launched last July, and thanked his family, volunteers and donors. He did not endorse Trump in his remarks, nor even mention the GOP frontrunner.

“As for my beloved Ohio, the people here I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the opportunity that you have given me to be a leader,” he said. “The people of Ohio have given me the greatest professional experience of my life.”

Ohio also gave Kasich his sole victory in the GOP nominating contest. The 66 delegates he won in the state’s March 15 primary represented more than a third of his 153 total delegates, far behind the 1,053 Trump has and the 565 secured by Cruz.

“When this whole things started, there were 16 or 17 highly qualified men and women on the stage, any one of whom would have made a great president,’ said Mark Munroe, Mahoning County GOP chairman. “The quality and diversity of the Republican field was incredible.”

Although Munroe, like Winbush, preferred Kasich, Trump proved to be a “formidable candidate,” he said, who displayed the leadership skills to be an effective political leader, and he will support him as the GOP nominee.

“In the end, what really counts is winning in November,” Munroe said..

To those who are concerned that Trump might be a weak general election candidate – several polls show him extremely unpopular among key demographic groups and losing to Clinton by double digits in the fall – Munroe is confident people are going to see “a different Donald Trump” in the fall.

“For the past four months these candidates have been engaged in what amounts to a bar fight,” he said. “It’s been tough, it’s been hard at times, it’s been ugly. But now we’re going to move beyond that and get into the general election campaign. I think we’re going to see a much more presidential Donald Trump on the stump.”

The Mahoning County GOP leader said he’s encouraged by the strong Republican turnout in the primary in Mahoning County.

“Let’s not forget what we’ve seen in the Mahoning Valley. Donald Trump demonstrated an incredible ability to energize voters and bring them out to the polls. Republican voter registration was more than double because of Trump,” he said.

“That suggests to me that we have an excellent chance to carry Mahoning County, and any time a Republican has a chance of carrying Mahoning County that’s a pretty good sign he’s going to carry Ohio and win the national election.”

Matt Borges, Ohio Republican Party chairman, praised Kasich’s “positive campaign that offered real solutions for America. Governor Kasich never wavered from taking the high road as he sought the highest office in the land,” he said in a statement.

“Now, we’ll move forward and continue our mission to defeat Hillary Clinton and support the Republican Party nominee,” he added.

Earlier in the day, as news outlets began reporting that Kasich was planning to exit the GOP race, Democrats and their allies wasted little time in going after Trump. In Ohio, that meant linking the Republican frontrunner to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who is facing a challenge this year from former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

Polls show a tight race between the two.

“We’d like to welcome Senator Portman to his election nightmare,” said Strickland campaign spokesman David Bergstein. “Trump at the top of the Republican ticket will alienate the independent voters who decide elections in Ohio – while turning off moderate Republicans and energizing Democrats across the state.”

A statement issued by Americans United for Change linked Trump to Portman’s decision not to act on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“By hitching his wagons to the dangerous candidacy of Trump on top of taking this hugely unpopular and unconstitutional ‘no hearings’ stance, Senator Portman has effectively signed a political suicide pact along with a number of his fellow vulnerable Republican Senate colleagues,” said the advocacy group’s president, Brad Woodhouse.

CNN reports that Kasich and Portman are among potential candidates for the vice presidential slot on the GOP ticket.

Pictured: Gov. John R. Kasich announces his withdrawal for the GOP presidential race during a press event Wednesday in Columbus.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.