Sherrod Brown's 2018 re-election campaign gets a national look: Ohio Politics Roundup – cleveland.com

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Ohio’s 2018 Senate race already is attracting national attention. The 2018 Ohio gubernatorial race has seen its first major staff firing. And because it’s never too early, John Kasich is building some 2020 New Hampshire buzz. Read more in today’s Ohio Politics Roundup, brought to you today by Andrew J. Tobias.

Sherrod in Politico: Reporting from Toledo, Politico reporter Elana Schor on Saturday summed up U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s path to re-election: “Ohio’s only statewide elected Democrat who boasts his own penchant for populism, Brown will have to capture some Trump voters if he wants to win reelection.”

Generally, the article describes the tightrope Brown and other swing-state Democrats may have to walk in 2018 between appealing to people who voted for Trump while not being viewed as sell-outs by their base. So far, Brown has tried to position himself as willing to work with Trump on infrastructure and trade issues.

The piece’s headline: “Meet the liberal hero who hasn’t given up on Trump.”

Schor quoted Brown describing the mild backlash he generated by voting to confirm Ben Carson as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“I got some people mad at me because I voted for Carson,” Brown said. “But I voted for Carson because Carson knows one thing about housing — and that is, there’s too much lead in too many homes and it affects kids’ brain development.”

Reminder: She also quoted Ethan Zorfas, who criticized Brown on behalf of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is running for the Republican nomination to challenge Brown next year. Zorfas works for Axiom Strategies, which as we’ve previously reported is serving as a general consultant for Mandel’s campaign. (Axiom founder Jeff Roe ran Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.)

Birds of a feather: Mandel is “one of nine candidates who have forged a fundraising agreement with FreedomWorks PAC, the political arm of a D.C.-based group affiliated with the tea party movement,” writes USA Today’s Deirdre Shesgreen, who also writes for the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“Other local lawmakers who have signed up include GOP Reps. Warren Davidson of Troy and Thomas Massie from Northern Kentucky, as well as Sen. Rand Paul,” the Kentucky Republican and 2016 presidential candidate, writes Shesgreen.

The bottom line: It’s very early in the election cycle, but Mandel’s campaign associations with Tea Party/insurgent conservative figures further reinforce that’s the kind of race he’s going to run. (As if the Trump-esque cues in his campaign messaging and social media activity weren’t enough.)

Cleveland Tax Day rally: “Close to 500 people rallied in downtown Cleveland on Saturday morning, joining more than 150 other demonstrations nationwide calling on President Turmp to release his tax returns and protesting his administration’s policies,” according to a staff report from The Plain Dealer.

“Earlier in the morning, about 75 white-coated doctors rallied on Public Square with U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, Democrat of Cleveland.”

Turnover in Renacci campaign: “After less than a month in the race, [Republican U.S. Rep.] Jim Renacci has already dismissed the campaign manager for his bid for Ohio governor and has hired a replacement,” write the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Chrissie Thompson and Jessie Balmert.

Out as campaign manager: Bryan Reed, “a veteran of the campaigns of new Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the former presidential candidate.”

In as campaign manager: Weston McKee, “who filled that role on recent campaigns by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Arizona.”

Controversial billing: Conservative journalist William Kristol’s status as a headliner for a May fundraiser for the Cuyahoga County Republican Party has caused consternation from some rank-and-file party members, I reported on Friday.

“Kristol is a former Reagan Administration official with a long history in conservative journalism and politics. But he was perhaps best known this past election cycle for being a steady voice in the #NeverTrump movement, going as far as to recruit another conservative journalist as a (short-lived) protest candidate in the presidential race.”

Bonnie Dolezal, a county GOP central committee member, said Kristol’s presence at the fundraiser “is an insult to the grassroots that worked hard to elect Donald J. Trump.”

But County Chairman Rob Frost said Kristol’s presence is meant to spur “dialogue.” Also important, Frost says: “remembering that the enemies are the liberal media and the liberal left, not other conservatives who may have different opinions about certain particular issues.”

Hitting the airwaves: A top pro-Trump political group has reserved cable TV ads in Cleveland-area Rep. Dave Joyce’s district this week, I wrote on Friday.

The ads, purchased by America First Priorities, are scheduled to begin airing today. While we haven’t seen them, or heard what they will say, we expect they will try to drum up support for Trump, rather than say, criticize Joyce for opposing the Trump-backed American Health Care Act.

Extremely early New Hampshire watch: Journalists often say if it happens three times, it’s a trend. Well, the Boston Globe’s James Pindell in a Friday piece described three possible 2020 presidential prospects who will be in New Hampshire this month: former Vice President Joe Biden, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Reminder: Kasich is there promoting his new book.

This quote says it all: “I mean goodness, we are 31/2 years away from the next presidential election, let’s get going already,” said Paul Hodes, a Democrat and former U.S .representative from New Hampshire.

Cleveland City Council update: While there are plenty of nominating petitions circulating around, two incumbent council members will face confirmed primary challenges in September, writes cleveland.com’s Robert Higgs.

When and if he files, Ward 4 Councilman Ken Johnson will face three certified challengers, including a retired Cleveland police officer. And Ward 7 Councilman TJ Dow will face two certified challengers, including neighborhood activist Basheer Jones. Another relatively prominent figure has emerged in the race: journalist and businessman Mansfield Frazier, who announced his candidacy on Friday.

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