Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Friday became the first Republican candidate to qualify for the Ohio presidential primary, in a sign of organizational strength his backers believe makes him still well-positioned to compete far into next year’s process.
Bush volunteers on Friday filed a full slate of delegates at the Ohio secretary of state’s office to get on the Buckeye State’s ballot. He was the first GOP candidate to do so, even ahead of John Kasich, Ohio’s current governor.
Delegate slates weren’t due until December 16.
“Jeb has a statewide volunteer intensive operation here in Ohio. These volunteers are committed to winning Ohio’s delegate and making Jeb our next President. Being the first to file shows Jeb has the organised grassroots campaign required to win Ohio,” Bush volunteer Bob Paduchik said in a statement provided to Business Insider.
Bush’s standing in Republican primary polls has crumbled since the summer, when real-estate mogul Donald Trump began surging to supplant Bush as the front-runner. Bush now sits in fifth place nationally, according to a RealClearPolitics average of recent national surveys, behind Trump, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Bush’s backers argue that he remains well-positioned because of his organisation across a wide swath of primary states, leaving him in prime position to capture the majority of voters who traditionally decide late in the primary process.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, a Bush supporter, compared Bush’s “ground game” to that of former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes. Hayes’ conservative offensive style, often described as “three yards and a cloud of dust,” emphasised running the ball — a different type of “ground game.”
“He’s got a good team here,” Ridge said in an interview in Milford, New Hampshire, after a Bush town-hall event Thursday. “He’s got a good team in Iowa. South Carolina. Nevada. Everywhere. So I’m pretty confident.”
Bush has qualified for the ballot in 32 states. Ohio’s primary will be held on March 15, 2016.
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