A group of Ohio conservatives who are unhappy with Republican Gov. John Kasich's leadership plan to get behind conservative activist Ted Stevenot in the Republican primary.
Stevenot, of Clermont County near Cincinnati, is president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition.
Joining him as lieutenant governor candidate would be Brenda Mack, president of Ohio Black Republicans.
The duo were introduced Saturday in Columbus at a meeting of leaders and activists who represent some 250 groups planning strategy for the 2014 primary and general elections.
John McAvoy, a leader of the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, said the group is supporting Stevenot in the Republican primary in May.
Said McAvoy (of Millbury): "There were a little less than 200 leaders from across the state at that meeting. Ted (and Brenda Mack) received a 5-minute standing ovation when he made the announcement."
"I am very energized that the Republican Party will have a conservative candidate in the gubernatorial primary," he said.
Arch-conservatives will have a fall-back if Stevenot doesn't get through the primary. Charlie Earl (former state representative of Bowling Green) is running as a Libertarian or independent.
McAvoy said NWOCC will make a decision on who to support in the general election this summer.
Conservatives, referred to as Tea Partiers, opposed Kasich's expansion of Medicaid eligibility in Ohio. They also disagreed with his plan to broaden the sales tax base and a tax on shale oil and gas exploration and were dismayed by his unwillingness to endorse a right-to-work effort.
Tea Partiers backed a failed effort by Tom Zawistowski of Kent in April to become chairman. Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County TEA Party, preceded Stevenot as president of the OLC, the closest thing to a statewide Tea Party organization.
Zawistowski told The Blade today that Stevenot will have his support if he runs.
Stevenot announced that he had formed an exploratory committee. He and Mack said they expected to make a formal announcement soon.
The coalition will meet again on Saturday, in Findlay with northwest Ohio groups. The event is 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Kiwanas Village, Meeting Room, 1200 Croy Dr.
Chris Schrimpf, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said Kasich has a solid conservative record to run on:
"Three years ago Governor Kasich took over a state in crisis: an record $8 billion budget deficit, 400,000 Ohioans out of work and 89 cents in the rainy day fund. His efforts to eliminate the deficit, move Ohio from 47th to 9th in the nation in job growth with 175,000 new private sector jobs, and implement the largest tax cut in the nation are getting Ohio back on track. His continued leadership will keep Ohio going in the right direction. He has and will continue to have the strong backing of the Ohio Republican Party."