Ohio Conservative Groups Blast Kasich, Portman, Direction Of Republican Party

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UPDATED: Thursday March 21, 2013 12:21 PM

Ohio conservatives and Tea Party organizers went on record Thursday, threatening to challenge any Republican incumbent who they view as too moderate.

"We put the party bosses on notice that we reject their betrayal of the party platform and our conservative values," said Tom Zawistowski of the Portage County Tea Party. "We will not support them going forward but will instead support those who are true to our cause."

Over 80 social and fiscal conservative leaders signed a letter sent to Republican elected officials. Those who signed it are from tea party groups, conservative organizations and anti-abortion groups.

Read the letter here.

"Some of our Republican officials seem hell-bent on alienating conservative voters and volunteers, which reduces voter turnout," said Lori Viars from Warren County Right to Life. "They ignore the GOP platform, choosing to put themselves outside the mainstream of our party base."

Conservatives targeted their anger specifically at governor John Kasich, Republican Sen. Rob Portman, and Matt Borges from the Ohio Republican Party.

Kasich is targeted for proposing a tax increase on the oil and gas industry, supporting Medicaid expansion and his budget proposal that increases state spending.

Conservatives complain that Portman changed his position on same-sex marriage, "defying one of the key planks of the Republican Party platform."

Portman made the announcement last Friday when he revealed that his son was gay.

"Never have I been more concerned for the direction of our state and country - largely due to a failure in leadership," said Seth Morgan, former state representative.  "Why would our Republican leaders put themselves at odds with sound public policy and the platform of their own party?"

Conservatives also target Matt Borges, frontrunner to be the next chairman of the state GOP, as "a man who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for improper use of public office in a bribery investigation and served as a lobbyist for the liberal homosexual activist group, Equality Ohio."

Borges dismisses the criticism telling 10TV his record was expunged by a judge and that he believes the charges stemmed from a "political witch hunt."

"Few have worked harder over the last 23 years to elect conservatives to office in Ohio than I have. My hand is extended to anyone who wants to join the cause."

A vote to replace current GOP chairman Bob Bennett is scheduled for late April.

Borges has the endorsement of several prominent conservatives including former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell who says Borges "understands conservative principles."

Another supporter, Mike Gonidakas from Ohio Right to Life, says Borges "has been a strong supporter and friend of Ohio's pro-life movement."

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