JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
JETTA FRASER Enlarge
Adding another legal wrinkle to the GOP power struggle in Lucas County, Republican Paul Hoag has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to throw out the candidacies of 52 people seeking a seat on the party's central committee.
Mr. Hoag of Springfield Township belongs to a faction trying to remove Jon Stainbrook as chairman of the local Republican Party.
In the request for a writ of prohibition on Wednesday, Mr. Hoag contends that the candidates, believed to be Stainbrook supporters, should not be allowed on the May 4 ballot.
Mr. Hoag questions whether candidates can sign a declaration of candidacy stating they are "qualified electors," then register to vote, while at the same time submitting a declaration of candidacy to the board of elections.
"The Lucas County Board of Elections has ruled that it's acceptable to lie today, so long as you're going to correct it tomorrow," Mr. Hoag said.
John Borell, assistant county prosecutor, said the elections board certified the candidacies based on the advice of the Ohio Secretary of State.
The party's central committee is made up of one representative from each voting precinct; the committee elects the party chairman.
Mr. Stainbrook said the suit is intended to keep people from running for party positions in order to defeat him.
He contends his opponents tried that two years ago when he ran for party chairman and was elected.
"This is again a desperate attempt to eliminate newcomers to the party. We overwhelmingly out-recruited them again, and every time that happens their standard response is to sue the new recruits," Mr. Stainbrook said.
The state's highest court is weighing the Lucas County contest for leadership. Mr. Stainbrook has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to order the secretary of state to appoint him to a vacancy on the Board of Elections.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner appointed Ben Marsh, a Toledo GOP lawyer, who was not recommended by either of the factions vying for party control.
Mr. Hoag and Jeff Simpson, who claims to be party chairman, maintain they were elected to replace Mr. Stainbrook and Meghan Gallagher, his central committee chairman, on Dec. 21.
Mr. Stainbrook has not recognized that vote, and the dispute is pending before the Ohio Republican Party's central committee.