The Tea Party’s increasingly acrimonious battle with Ohio Republican Governor Rob Portman is gaining attention, but it’s still not as nasty as it needs to be. So far, Tea Party groups are the only ones taking shots. Here’s their beef with Portman, from the Daily Beast:
To hear Tea Partiers tell it, the trouble reached a crescendo in the spring, when Gov. Kasich installed an ally, Matt Borges, as executive director of the Ohio GOP over Tom Zawistowski, a local Tea Party leader. “The leaders of the Republican Party in Ohio have chosen to separate themselves and the party from the wishes and values of their support base,” Zawistowski said in a statement signed by more than 70 conservative leaders from around the state. “With this letter we put the party bosses on notice that we reject their betrayal of the party platform and our conservative values. We will not support them going forward but will instead support those who are true to our cause.
His move on the Medicaid expansion could save the state $4 billion by 2025 and expand coverage for 300,000 Ohioans. It also has brought him warm profiles in such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, which suggested that Kasich’s approach could “rebrand the Republican Party by refashioning what it means to be a conservative in the 21st century.” But for conservatives, the expansion has brought nothing but anger, not least because Kasich has defended his actions in biblical, moralistic terms, describing the move as something demanded by his Christian faith.
“In our Bible, compassion means the money comes from you,” Zawistowski told The Daily Beast. “Medicaid is for single women with children and for the elderly, for people who can’t work. What they are calling Medicaid expansion is health insurance for people who don’t want to work. You are not expanding Medicaid. This is a whole new program and it is with borrowed money.”
Portman could pretty much guarantee himself a Chris Christie-style re-election landslide if he’d just go on TV and the Tea Party to f-off, but very few Republicans have that kind of moxie. Until they do, guys like Portman will continue to struggle and the party will keep losing ground.