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Kevin DeWine in April lost a bitter, high-profile power struggle for control of the Ohio Republican Party to Gov. John Kasich even though DeWine was the party’s chairman. The feud between these GOP titans grew so personal that even time may not be enough to heal these battle scars, especially for DeWine.
We won’t rehash all the nastiness but in a nutshell Kasich wanted DeWine booted for his perceived lack of support when Kasich successfully ran for office in 2010 against Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland.
But DeWine did not go quietly, penning a resignation letter in which he declared himself the better man making the sake of the party his foremost concern and noting that Republicans may have just lost the best chairman they had ever had.
DeWine, who took office in January 2009, noted that he had promised to re-engage the state party’s conservative base and establish improved voter contact programs. In his letter he deemed himself a success by using the 2010 elections as a barometer when Republicans swept the statewide elected offices and more.
He then took his boasting a step further, claiming at least by one measure to be the best run state-level Republican party in the country during his tenure.
"Since 2009, the Ohio Republican Party has collected more data points — nearly 6.6 million — than any other state in the nation," DeWine wrote.
Data points? PolitiFact Ohio decided to learn more.
Party spokesman Chris Maloney later explained that ‘data points’ represent actual contacts with voters, whether it be by phone, door-to-door knocking, email, snail mail or through social media outlets.
Maloney would not share the party’s data for proprietary reasons, he said, but insisted the "nearly 6.6 million" figure that DeWine touts is accurate. As for how that ranks against other states, Maloney referred us to the state-level’s parent organization, the Republican National Committee.
RNC spokesman Ryan Mahoney sent us a statement: The Ohio GOP’s "strong performance in 2010 combined with their efforts in 2011 give them the most voter contacts/data points since 2009. We monitor and coordinate with all of the states across the country so we can compare how all of the state parties perform."
The RNC, however, declined to show us actual state-by-state figures, leaving us to essentially take them at their word.
Reviewing the political activity of 2010 and 2011 would lend itself to support DeWine’s assertion. In 2010, all five of Ohio’s statewide elected offices were up for grabs: governor, attorney general, auditor, treasurer and secretary of state. And leading into the election, four of those five offices were held by Democrats.
But with the state, much like the rest of the country, reeling from the effects of a recession, Republicans figured to have a strong shot at winning several of those seats and they did — winning all of them. The GOP also held onto a U.S. Senate seat that year.
Then came 2011, an off-year for elections that turned out to be anything but. There were two major referendums on the ballot last year that helped mobilize both Republicans and Democrats and drove an unusually high number of voters to the voting booths for a year when no major state or federal political races are anchoring the ballot.
Democrats worked their base to come out in overwhelming support of a referendum to overturn Senate Bill 5, a controversial collective bargaining bill. And Republicans reached into their deeply conservative roots to block provisions of the federal healthcare law they dubbed Obamacare from being implemented in Ohio. That turned out to be more a symbolic vote than anything since the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided that it would hear a case to determine if the healthcare law was constitutional.
The bottomline is that it figures to reason that Republicans — and Democrats, too, for that matter should they make a similar claim — likely had strong success in reaching out and making contact with their base of voters.
So where does that leave us with DeWine’s statement?
DeWine’s claim was that since 2009, the Ohio party has collected more contact points than any other state in the nation. He presented that point as part of a greater discussion of his successes as party leader.
While the organization is quick to boast about a claim of being the best among 50 state GOP operations, it would not offer up definitive proof to support their point.
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee didn’t offer statistics, either, but did support DeWine’s claim that Ohio’s performance for building contacts was tops since 2009. We see no reason for the national organization to label Ohio’s operation as tops compared to the other states unless that is true.
Based on that, we find DeWine’s claim is accurate. That the party declined to provide supporting data to back the specific numbers DeWine’s letter cites is additional information that helps provide clarity.
On the Truth-O-Meter, DeWine’s claim rates Mostly True.
Telephone interview with Chris Maloney, April 23, 2012
Email exchange with Ryan Mahoney, April 24, 25, 2012
Kevin DeWine, letter of resignation as chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, April 4, 2012
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