Riordan McClain Just Won Ohio’s Political Lottery

Smithberger Strikes Again.  Voters Get Screwed, Again.

By Connor Brown


Riordan McClain just became the luckiest guy in Ohio politics.  How?  He vaulted over nine other better known and more qualified candidates to win a coveted appointment to the Ohio House seat vacated by Wesley Goodman.  


So, how did Mr. McClain get this seat?  It wasn’t due to the management lessons he gained from running the local Menards.  And it wasn’t from learning how to turn your cash into gold through his past four years working customer service at SD Bullion.  And it wasn’t due to the fact that he’s never made a campaign contribution, ran for office, or served in any elected or appointed office.  It wasn’t even for the fact that the only Facebook post he’s made in 3 years is “It's not about me... it's about Jesus.”


Nope.  The 34 year old Riordan had just two really important things going for him.  First, and most importantly, he has promised to vote for Ryan Smith for Speaker next year.  Second, he is the son of Jeff McClain, the term limited former state legislator who quit early to lobby for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.


And who did he vault over to get this seat?  The list is long and distinguished and includes:


Steve Reinhard – Mr. Reinhard is a farmer and former state legislator that represented this district from 2001 until 2008 and also served as a Crawford County Commissioner.  In 2016, Wes Goodman barely defeat Reinhard in the GOP primary for the seat.


Tom Whiston – Mr. Whiston is a pharmacist and the current Chairman of the Morrow County Commissioners.  He also ran unsuccessfully for this seat in 2016 and previously.  He has already announced his candidacy for the primary in May 2018.


Doug Weisenauer – Mr. Weisenauer is a current Crawford County Commissioner.


Patricia K. Davies – Ms. Davies is the current Morrow County Auditor and a West Point graduate.  She served four years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army.


Kathryn Grasz - President and CEO of Wyandot Chamber of Commerce.


Kurt Fankhauser -  Owner of Wavelinc Communications LLC, a wireless high speed internet provider.


Sean A. Martin – A Carey attorney and former village law director.


Edward C. Pfeifer - An assistant grain buyer and ice cream business co-owner.


This appointment didn’t even need to be made now.  Cliff Rosenberger could have left the seat vacant and then appointed the winner of the primary.  


In fact, that’s what happened last time.  Jeff McClain vacated the seat early and the Ohio House left it up to the voters to decide.  Wes Goodman was then appointed to the vacancy after winning the primary, not before.


But something significant has happened in the meantime.  Statehouse sources tell us that former Speaker Larry Householder and his team have out worked, out raised, and out recruited Rosenberger and Ryan Smith.  They tell us that if the process is played out fairly, i.e., that if caucus funds aren’t used in contested primaries, then Householder is the odds on favorite to win.


That’s why this appointment is being made now.  By making the handsome, young McClain an appointed incumbent, Rosenberger and Smith can use the bulging caucus campaign fund, which is intended for general elections, in a primary now.  


This is a safe GOP seat.  There should never, ever, be a reason to spend caucus funds in such a district.  But watch them do it.  We’ve seen it before.  


And what happened before?  As 3rd Rail Politics has pointed out, when caucus funds are wasted in party primaries in safe GOP seats, money is taken away from the marginal seats in the general election.  That’s how Republicans lose majorities folks.


And voters?  Voters get burned again.  


As of the 2010 census over 120,000 Ohioans resided in this district.  Instead of having their choice of possible candidates in an open primary, an embattled, lameduck, Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, gets to make the choice.  


In fact, statehouse sources tell 3rd Rail Politics that Rosenberger had to override his own, handpicked, screening committee to make this appointment.

Several screening committee members strongly supported West Point graduate and Morrow County Auditor Patricia K. Davies.  After the frat boy shenanigans that went on in this district under Wes Goodman, perhaps picking a tough, no nonsense female veteran wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.  


Others were impressed by Carey attorney Sean Martin, the village’s former law director.  


Regardless, these things continue to happen because Ohio’s House Republicans let a lameduck Speaker, with a wish for a vicarious 3rd term; do whatever he wants.  


How long will they let it continue?  Until they are in the minority?  Or will House Republicans finally wake up before it’s too late?