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Published: Saturday, 2/20/2010

Stainbrook finding backers

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Even if the forces lined up against Jon Stainbrook succeed in forcing him out as chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, their victory may be short-lived.

A quick survey of nearly 400 petitions filed for the Lucas County Republican Party Central Committee appears to show Mr. Stainbrook has more central committee candidates supporting him than does his rival, Jeff Simpson.

That means if he's removed as chairman, as Mr. Simpson's group is trying to do, Mr. Stainbrook could return to power when the party's central committee reorganizes after the May 4 primary.

"I'm still counting the numbers, and I'm not ready to declare victory, but it looks like we brought more people to the table again," Mr. Stainbrook said.

With about 100 contested precinct races, and with the likelihood that some candidates will not qualify for the ballot, it's too early to predict the outcome of the 2010 contest for party chairman.

Mr. Simpson said he had not studied the filings submitted by Thursday's deadline.

"That would be a problem for me," he acknowledged, if he ends up losing the vote for chairman.

He said there is undoubtedly a fight ahead for control of the local party.

"Everything up to now has been a hard-fought battle because it's important," Mr. Simpson said.

It was by winning control of the central committee in 2008 that Mr. Stainbrook was able to wrest control of the party from an "old guard" he said was ineffective.

Of 181 candidates in uncontested precincts, at least 116 appear to be Stainbrook loyalists. At least 43 appear to be in Mr. Simpson's camp, leaving 22 not obviously committed.

Of the 212 candidates in 99 contested precincts, Mr. Stainbrook appeared to have at least 98 supporting him. Mr. Simpson appeared to be represented by at least 80. It was not immediately clear toward whom the remaining 34 are leaning.

The party's central committee is made up of one representative from each county precinct and has the responsibility to elect the chairman. The deadline to file candidates for the central committee was Thursday.

Linda Howe, director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, said the board will meet Thursday to certify candidates.

Mr. Simpson and Paul Hoag of Springfield Township claim to have removed Mr. Stainbrook and Meghan Gallagher as party chairman and central committee chairman, respectively, at a meeting of the central committee Dec. 21.

The question of who is the rightful chair of the party is before the Ohio Republican Party, following Mr. Stainbrook's failed effort to win an injunction in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

On Thursday, the state party was given 30 days to act.

Also yesterday, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's request to intervene in the Common Pleas Court case filed in the dispute between the two party factions was denied by Judge Charles Doneghy, who ruled that he terminated the case when he denied Mr. Stainbrook the injunction he sought.

Ms. Brunner said she wants permission from the court to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Lucas County Board of Elections if the Republican power struggle is not resolved before March 1.

The two factions have nominated rival candidates for board member Lynn Olman's seat that expires Feb. 28. The committee supporting Mr. Stainbrook has nominated him, while the Simpson contingent has nominated David Dmytryka.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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