COLUMBUS — Nearly everyone in the crowded Republican presidential field is preparing to battle for Ohio’s delegates, not conceding to Gov. John Kasich on his home field.
Twelve candidates including outsider contenders Donald Trump and Ben Carson filed delegate slates for the March 15 primary. Five Democrats including front-runner Hillary Clinton also filed by Wednesday’s deadline for their party’s presidential primary.
Kasich has good favorability ratings as the state’s second-term governor. But he’s among several candidates struggling to gain enough traction for their campaigns to remain viable by the time the race comes to Ohio — and to still be alive when Cleveland hosts the national GOP convention in July.
But if you think the presidential race is crowded, consider the U.S. House district in western Ohio vacated by former Speaker John Boehner: 20 candidates, 17 of them Republicans, filed.
Former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, former state Attorney General Betty Montgomery and a number of past and present federal and state officeholders joined Kasich’s delegate lineup.
Some out-of-state candidates are lining up support from Ohio activists, too.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who already had the backing of state Treasurer Josh Mandel, has a host of elected and party officials for delegates including Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell and Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer. The wife of Sen. Rob Portman’s campaign manager also jumped on board.
High-profile Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters is on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s slate.
Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul didn’t file full delegate slates, which could indicate lackluster support in the battleground state. Former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore didn’t file for Ohio’s primary.
Democrats aren’t leaving any Republican congressional incumbents unchallenged, despite a Republican-drawn House map weighted against them.
Democratic Chairman David Pepper said it’s partly “the Trump effect” — a sense that the billionaire businessman’s nomination would seriously divide the GOP for November.
“There’s been so much attention to Trump affecting turnout so much and badly hurting the down-ticket races that we might win districts that were drawn for us not to win,” Pepper said.”
Republican Chairman Matt Borges attributed the Democratic congressional challenges to nervousness in the party about Hillary Clinton. But he didn’t dispute that a Trump candidacy could hurt other Republicans.
“Donald Trump’s message is too divisive to carry Ohio, so unless his message changes, we’re going to have to change candidates,” said Borges, a Kasich supporter. “The only thing standing between Republicans and the White House is ourselves.”
The below candidates have filed with the Ohio Secretary of State to run in the 2016 Primary Election according to Ohio Secretary of State office. Wednesday was the filing deadline.
For President of the United States:
• Jeb Bush
• Ben Carson
• Chris Christie
• Ted Cruz
• Carly Fiorina
• Lindsey Graham
• Mike Huckabee
• John Kasich
• Rand Paul
• Marco Rubio
• Rick Santorum
• Donald Trump
• Hillary Clinton
• Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente
• Martin O’Malley
• Bernie Sanders
• Willie Wilson
For the U.S. Senate:
• Joseph DeMare, Green Party
• Don Elijah Eckhart, Republican
• Rob Portman, Republican
• Kelli Prather, Democrat
• P.G. Sittenfeld, Democrat
• Ted Strickland, Democrat
• Melissa Strzala, Republican