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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Former Ohio Governor John Kasich has been criticizing President Trump since losing to him in the presidential primary back in 2016. Now, he’s not alone. A new group of Ohioans who have been influential in Republican party leadership say they’re coming together for one purpose – to defeat President Trump.
Former Cincinnati City Council member and Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich has been active in Republican politics for decades. But this election, he’s jumping the political fence and urging a vote for Democrat Joe Biden.
“We are asking our fellow Republicans to be patriots and not partisans,” Heimlich says.
Heimlich is part of a group known as Operation Grant, named after Ohio-born President Ullysses Grant who this group credits for unifying the country after the civil war. Operation Grant supporters include former Shelby County GOP Chair Christopher Gibbs. He resigned as party chair last year, because he says President Trump has hurt farmers considerably with failed trade policies then made them wards of the government with federal aid packages.
“With markets in tatters and prices below the cost of production, farmers had little choice but to grab hold of that money, say thank you sir, shut up and hunker down,” Gibbs says.
Major General Dennis Laich, also a Republican, says Trump doesn’t respect the troops who are fighting to keep the country safe from harm.
“Our commander in chief is an incompetent sociopath who places America’s national security at risk,” Laich says.
Other Operation Grant backers are Tyler Fehrman, the whistleblower in the nuclear bailout law federal case again former Speaker Larry Householder.
“Over the past few years, I have witnessed the degradation of the Republican party and the United States at the hands of President Donald J. Trump. His vile and despicable language which he uses on a regular basis in relation to women – those we call mothers, sisters, daughters and leaders, in relation to minorities – those who struggle under the hand of oppression through no fault of their own, the language he uses toward immigrants – those who desperately seek a better life for themselves and their families and toward hispolitical opponents,” Fehrman says.
Rocky Saxbe is former Ohio Republican lawmaker and a financial contributor to many candidates for office. He says there aren’t any high profile elected officials involved because Trump is using fear of retribution as a way to keep Republicans in check.
“So, he has the party and party leaders held hostage and we are being led over the cliff and the country is being led over the cliff,” Saxbe says.
Heimlich says the Republican Party needs Biden to win to save itself, return to its core values and revive a spirited two party system.
“One of the discouraging things for many of us is how many Republican elected officials and party leaders have refused to speak up. They have become enablers of this president,” Heimlich says.
When asked if the Ohio Republican Party has any comment on Operating Grant, its spokesman Evan Machan replied: “No one cares about these former republicans. Ohio stands firmly behind President Trump.”