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Published: Saturday, 3/25/2006

Republicans avoid primary fight for secretary of state


COLUMBUS - Republicans have avoided a potentially costly primary battle for Ohio secretary of state after Rep. Jim Trakas (R., Independence) dropped out of the race yesterday.

The move leaves Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann as the sole GOP contender for the job of Ohio's chief elections officer and business records-keeper.

Barring some surprise, he will face Democrat Jennifer Brunner, a former Franklin County judge, in November. Also uncontested for her party's nomination on May 2, she had hoped to keep her powder dry for fall while her opponents spent theirs against each other.

"I don't believe in tilting at windmills," said Mr. Trakas. "Having the resources to get your message out is crucial, and Greg Hartmann did a much better job at that than I did. I want to be a loyal Republican, and I don't want to see Greg spend a lot of money to beat me in the primary, and then have a difficult time getting back in the game for the general election."

As of the end of the year, Mr. Hartmann had nearly $387,000 in the bank, compared with about $42,000 for Mr. Trakas.

Without naming names, the Republican State Central and Executive Committee yesterday voted yesterday to authorize Chairman Bob Bennett to endorse any sole remaining GOP primary candidate if his opponent drops out. Mr. Bennett promptly endorsed Mr. Hartmann.

Mr. Trakas, former chairman of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, is barred from seeking re-election to the Ohio House because of term limits.

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