Cleveland Plain Dealer: Medicaid expansion looms over race for Ohio House speaker, Martin O'Malley seeks bond with Ed FitzGerald and more: Ohio Politics Roundup
Medicaid expansion could emerge as a key front in the battle to be Ohio House speaker. Presidential politics are back in Cleveland. And Jon Husted checkmates Nina Turner on a key component of early voting. All in the game, here’s today’s Ohio Politics Roundup.
The race to be the next speaker of the Ohio House could come down to Medicaid expansion. Ron Amstutz and Cliff Rosenberger might soon have a decision to make.
Speculation has intensified that Republican Gov. John Kasich could turn to the state’s seven-member Controlling Board to do what the GOP-controlled legislature won’t.
Kasich has bucked the conservative wing of his party by embracing the piece of President Barack Obama’s health care program that would extend Medicaid coverage to 275,000 uninsured Ohioans. The federal government will fully fund the expansion for three years.
The Controlling Board includes one Kasich appointee, four GOP lawmakers and two Democratic lawmakers. Longtime Statehouse scribe Thomas Suddes reported in The Plain Dealer that Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, a state representative with a seat on the panel, was undecided on a possible Medicaid vote.
But assume for the sake of conventional wisdom that Redfern and the other Democrat on the board, State Sen. Tom Sawyer, are “yes” votes. Assume also that Kasich’s appointee, budget policy adviser and Board President Randy Cole, fulfills the wishes of his patron.
So Kasich needs merely one vote among the four Republican members. And as Jim Siegel reports for the Columbus Dispatch, here’s where it gets dicey. Siegel notes that Sen. Bill Coley is a likely “no” and Sen. Chris Widener “has not indicated support.”
That leaves Amstutz and Rosenberger, two representatives believed to be the top two prospects to replace term-limited House Speaker William G. Batchelder.
Amstutz, of Wooster, had been working with fellow lawmakers to reach a deal on Medicaid after Republicans stripped it from Kasich’s budget. But he and Rosenberger, of Clarksville, likely would be reluctant to go along with Kasich. As Siegel writes: “Hard to imagine a scenario where one takes the heat for a ‘yes’ vote while letting the other skate.”
Ed FitzGerald and Martin O’Malley: Where 2014 and 2016 collide
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley finds himself in the position most Democrats who may harbor White House ambitions are in these days: Waiting on Hillary Clinton.
Until the former first lady, senator and secretary of state decides if she wants to run for president again, the field for 2016 will be frozen. But that doesn’t mean O’Malley and others aren’t planting seeds now in the interest of being fully prepared.
So Wednesday afternoon and evening, O’Malley will join Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald in Cleveland for a public event and Ohio Democratic Party fundraiser. It’s part of O’Malley’s effort to help elect Democratic governors in 2014. FitzGerald, the former mayor of Lakewood, is the presumptive Democratic challenger to Kasich.
In the afternoon FitzGerald and O’Malley will tour College Now, an organization that provides counseling and scholarships for Greater Cleveland students. In the evening they’ll attend a fundraiser at the downtown Ritz-Carlton. Redfern and Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chairman Stuart Garson also are listed as special guests for the event.
Tickets for a private reception with O’Malley cost $500. A general reception costs $75.
Americans for Prosperity slams FitzGerald
FitzGerald’s push to extend the county’s hotel tax to rooms gifted to casino customers has drawn attention from Americans for Prosperity Ohio. The group is an outpost of the national advocacy group that has financial ties to conservative billionaire David Koch.
“We agree with Mr. Fitzgerald that people are playing semantics with this important issue that will impact the competitive nature of an important segment of the Cleveland business community,” said Eli Miller, Americans for Prosperity Ohio’s director. “Unfortunately, it is Mr. Fitzgerald who is playing semantics on this one. The purpose of his proposal on the hotel tax is to increase revenue. That sounds like a tax increase to me.”
BREAKING: Jon Husted and Nina Turner agree!
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted will mail absentee ballot applications to all registered voters for the 2014 gubernatorial election. He mailed applications for last year’s presidential contest, after an open feud over the matter with FitzGerald.
State Sen. Nina Turner, the Democrat from Cleveland who is hoping to unseat Husted next year, is pleased with the decision by a man she calls the “secretary of suppression” every chance she gets. But Turner tells Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Robert Higgs that the move should not come at the expense of early, in-person voting hours.
And speaking of election reform …
The Bipartisan Policy Center, Ohio State University and USA Today are sponsoring a Tuesday forum at OSU on election policy. Husted will be on a panel that also includes two former Ohio governors: Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican Bob Taft.
Robert Bauer, former White House counsel under Obama, and Ben Ginsberg, who served as national counsel to Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, are also scheduled to appear, as is Husted’s counterpart from Minnesota, Mark Ritchie.
The Cincinnati Enquirer has more details.