Republican political activist Jon Stainbrook experienced a setback yesterday when a judge disqualified 21 newly elected members of the Lucas County Republican Party central committee - most of them Mr. Stainbrook's recruits.
Retired Judge J. Ronald Bowman of Lucas County Common Pleas Court ruled that the 21 weren't Republicans as defined by state law.
The ruling reduces Mr. Stainbrook's slate on the central committee, which will meet for the first time May 17 to elect the leadership of the county GOP.
Mr. Stainbrook is expected to challenge incumbent Robert Reichert for chairmanship of the party. Douglas Haynam, chairman of the outgoing central committee, who is allied with Mr. Reichert, sued to remove people who he contended were not qualified to serve on the committee.
Eleven of the 21 never have voted Republican. Ten voted Democratic in the March 4 primary.
State law requires central committee members to have a record of voting the ballot of the party whose central committee they wish to be elected to, and to not have voted the ballot of the opposite party in the most recent election, the judge ruled.
Mr. Haynam said the ruling confirmed his understanding of the law. He denied that he was seeking to gain political advantage in the contest for chairman.
"My lawsuit wasn't about any faction. It was about making sure that Republicans served on the Republican central committee, which seems reasonable to me," Mr. Haynam said.
Mr. Stainbrook said he is considering appealing Judge Bowman's ruling. He said several candidates for the central committee were inaccurately recorded by the Lucas County Board of Elections as not voting.
He said he personally witnessed Lee Reneau II, one of those on the list of disqualified central committee members, cast an absentee ballot, but the ballot has not been found.
The judge allowed Jeffery Cromwell, one of those Mr. Haynam sought to disqualify, after Mr. Cromwell's absentee ballot was found during a lunch break of the April 28 court hearing.
"There needs to be an investigation into why so many ballots were mishandled," Mr. Stainbrook said.
The board of elections certified 250 people as elected in the March 4 primary, and Judge Bowman's ruling reduced that number to 229.
Of the 229, about 108 are believed to have been recruited by Mr. Stainbrook and are expected to vote for him, if they show up for the meeting.
Mr. Stainbrook maintains that as many as a quarter of the remaining 121 have said they will vote for him.
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