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As filing deadline looms, will Ohio have gubernatorial primaries?
Feb. 5 filing deadline puts pressure on candidates to challenge Kasich, FitzGerald

Karen Kasler

The deadline for the May ballot is approaching, and candidates need to file by February 5. And so far, there are no candidates lined up to oppose either incumbent Republican John Kasich or Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald. Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler talked with two people in a position to know whether there will be primaries for the major party candidates.

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Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune says a primary could generate more interest and maybe even more money for the party, and he says if he runs, he wouldn’t spend any money on advertising and wouldn’t expect endorsed candidate Ed FitzGerald to either.

Portune says he’s talking to three potential running mates and traveling the state now, with the goal of making a decision next week. 

“I’m in it with both feet right now," Portune said. "I’m – you have to run like you’re in it to the end and like you’re in it to win it.”

Meanwhile, conservative activists are considering what to do now that Ted Stevenot, the candidate they’d thought would run against John Kasich, decided to bow out before he even filed. Tea Party leader Tom Zawistowski says finding a candidate is hard because of – quoting him – intimidation and threats. 

“There’s lot of what they would call qualified candidates who would run, but when you try to talk to them about running they’re worried about retribution from the party,” Zawistowski said.

And Zawistowski says the Tea Party is also targeting state House and Senate races as well, not just the GOP primary.

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