COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – An Ohio tea party leader says the movement is working to recruit a new primary challenger to Republican Gov. John Kasich after their first contender backed out of the race late Saturday.
Tom Zawistowski told The Associated Press that leader and activist Ted Stevenot’s withdrawal less than a week after entering the contest was personal.
Zawistowski said tea party supporters still hope to field an alternative to Kasich by the Feb. 5 deadline.
In an emailed statement, Stevenot said he decided not to run — despite “a tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement” — after discussions with family, friends, and advisers.
He called the decision unrelated to reports of financial difficulties by his running mate, Brenda Mack.
“My decision was not based on any concerns about my running mate, Brenda Mack, for whom I have tremendous respect and admiration,” Stevenot said in the release.
On Thursday The Columbus Dispatch reported Mack had filed for bankruptcy in 2008. A cancer diagnosis caused Mack personal and business financial problems, Stevenot said.
Stevenot is past president of the statewide Ohio Liberty Coalition, a Clermont County tea party leader and co-founder of a suburban Cincinnati insurance company.