Even as scandal engulfs the White House, President Donald Trump and his inner circle remain laser-focused on the campaign. Now they’re zeroing in on a state that was crucial to his victory in 2016—and likely will be in 2020 as well.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, Bob Paduchik is leaving his post as co-chair of the Republican National Committee to oversee the campaign’s Ohio operations. An RNC spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
Paduchik’s hiring is the latest in the Trump campaign’s efforts to build out ahead of the new year. Last week, the campaign announced that White House senior officials Justin Clark and Bill Stepien would be moving over to start putting a ground game in place.
Paduchik marks the campaign’s first major hire in a crucial state—Trump trounced Hillary Clinton in Ohio in 2016 but could face trouble in his reelection bid, as uncertainty about the effect of the president’s steel and aluminum tariffs continues to build.
There are signs that the state remains friendly territory for the GOP. Republican Mike DeWine just won the state’s gubernatorial election, succeeding John Kasich.
But Kasich, of course, has been a vocal Trump critic over the past two years, and has reportedly been toying with either a primary challenge or third-party bid in 2020. Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown—a popular progressive who could match Trump’s populist appeal—has been making his own noises about running for president.