How Rob Portman outmaneuvered the tea party

“Portman’s just a well-oiled political machine,” said Matt Naugle, a blogger for Right Ohio who has been critical of the candidate’s centrist leanings. “He doesn’t seem to be appealing to the core conservative base. His platform leaves much to be desired for Tea Partiers in general.”…

Portman’s early fundraising, buoyed by his powerful political connections, made him an intimidating match and Ganley pulled out to take on Democrat Betty Sue Sutton in Congress instead, committing about $3.5 million of his own money to the race. That campaign turned ugly this month when a 39-year-old Cleveland woman sued him for sexual assault, saying that Ganley, whom she met at a Tea Party rally, tried to force himself on her after describing lewd sex acts. Ganley’s lawyer claims the suit is extortion.

Ganley’s exit from the Senate race freed Portman to amass tons of campaign cash and tack to the center while his Democratic counterparts fought through a tough primary campaign of their own. Tea Partiers complained to the press that they were being ignored by Portman, though he made some visits to local groups, and he enraged many of them even further by supporting the administration’s Cash for Clunkers program.