Mike Pence Rallies Ohio's Amish Community to Tip Balance for Republicans
Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Ohio on Wednesday to support Ohio's Republican candidates, making a stop in Mansfield to campaign for gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine, Senate candidate Jim Renacci, and Congressmen Bob Gibbs and Troy Balderson. Along the way, the vice president carved out time to meet with the Amish community, many of whom attended the rally in Mansfield.
Renacci, who is currently a member of the U.S. House, told PJM that his team has been working with the Amish community for several years and he, along with Bikers for Trump leader Chris Cox, arranged for a meet and greet with the vice president.
The Amish aren't typically a sought-after voting bloc. After all, many have religious objections to voting and contacting them by phone is nearly impossible. However, some believe that the Amish may have helped to nudge George W. Bush over the finish line in the 2004 election. Bush's socially conservative platform resonated with the Amish and he devoted significant time and resources to those communities.
Ben Walters, who heads Amish PAC, a group dedicated to turning out the Amish vote, told PJM that tracking precise Amish voting statistics is difficult. But he explained that the Amish are a fast-growing population. "The eligible voting population has doubled since the 2004 presidential election. Most experts we talk to agree that about 9 in 10 Amish voters are Republicans," he said.
Renacci told PJM that members of the community visited his office when they had an issue with Social Security. The Amish are not required to pay Social Security or Medicare taxes, nor do they draw benefits from those programs.
"They do have concerns about policies," Renacci explained. "Their religion does not really want them to get involved in politics, but policies drive them." He said they tell him they are concerned about issues like gay marriage, abortion, transgender bathrooms, and "being able to continue the lifestyle they live." They worry that the government may become so liberal that they lose their rights, he said.
Incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown "does not fit in the direction of the policies" that the Amish care about, Renacci said, emphasizing that they vote based on policies rather than their affection for individual politicians. "My message has been that there's always been a potential attack on their religious liberties and to make sure they are engaged in voting and protecting their rights."
"I tell them I'm a supporter of religious freedoms and I'm pro-life and I don't support partial birth abortion like Sherrod Brown does," he said.
Renacci has been in an uphill battle since entering the Senate race late in the game after deciding to bow out of the race for governor. The RCP average has the race at +13.5 in Brown's favor and FiveThirtyEight gives Renacci only a 1 in 30 chance of winning. Polls and prognosticators, however, can be wrong, as we learned in the 2016 presidential election, so Renacci continues to campaign relentlessly.