Local rift, big Implications
By: Joe Vardon
The Columbus Dispatch – July 10, 2014 05:00 PM
The (official) Republican party in Lucas County is suing the Republican secretary of state.
Why? Good question.
On the surface, there’s an ongoing struggle between Secretary of State Jon Husted and Jon Stainbrook, Lucas County Republican chairman. The Lucas County Board of Election, in Toledo, has had problems for years, and Husted fired Stainbrook, a second Republican, and one Democrat from the board. Husted hasalso refused to appoint the two recommended replacementson the GOP’s side — recommendations made by Stainbrook’s Lucas County GOP executive committee. So that’s why Republicans are suing a Republican.
But on a broader scale, perhaps of statewide significance, Stainbrook said what’s been happening in Lucas County is indicative of the rift between GOP factions loyal to Husted and those loyal to Gov. John Kasich — and Stainbrook chooses Kasich. That matters not this year, when both Kasich and Husted are on the ballot for re-election, but could be important in 2018 when Husted may seek the party’s nomination for governor.
“Jon Husted is attacking a chairman in his own party in one of the urban counties in the state of Ohio who has been an avid supporter of his,” Stainbrook said. “Husted’s been way too cozy and in bed with Democrats at the state level.”
Stainbrook said he’s supported both Kasich and Husted, but he alsosigned a letter of GOP chairmen from urban counties calling for then-Republican state Chairman Kevin DeWine to resign. DeWine is close to Husted and was ultimately ousted from his post by Kasich loyalists. Stainbrook said his problems with Husted at the local board of election began after he signed that letter.
Husted’s government spokesman, Mat McClellan, waived off all of Stainbrook’s charges. “We’re only focused on trying to fix what’s wrong at the board of election in Lucas County,” he said.
Two points perhaps worth further pondering:
Remember from earlier in this long, winding post when Stainbrook accused Husted of being too cozy with Democrats? Well, the lone Lucas County board member not fired by Husted was John Irish, former Lucas County Democratic chairman. Husted’s office has said Stainbrook’s nominees for appointment to the board were not “competent” and had ties to past problems at the board. But Irish hashis own history.
Also, remember from much earlier in this crazy-long post when we put “official” in parentheses next to the LCRP? Well, there’s actuallya rival faction within the party up there that had made its own nominations for the county’s board of elections. Husted’s office had previously stated he would ignore the rival faction’s nominations and work solely with the “recognized” LCRP, which is run by Stainbrook.
However, Husted installed two Republicans to the Lucas County board today, rather than wait for a ruling on Stainbrook’s lawsuit.
One of the Republicans Husted put in place was Judge Peter Handwork — who had just happened to have been one of the rival faction’s two nominees.