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Published: Monday, 6/7/2010

State GOP wades into local fray

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The drawn-out fight for control of the Lucas County Republican Party is nearing a final showdown, with none other than the state Republican chairman, Kevin De-

Wine, stepping in to maintain order.

In a notice that went out recently, Mr. DeWine has set the meeting of the GOP central committee for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Erie Street Market in downtown Toledo, and appointed himself as temporary chairman.

The 322 GOP central committee members who were elected May 4 will be asked to elect a new county chairman.

The party has been roiled since the central committee's last meeting on Dec. 21. The meeting ended in chaos after a group headed by Toledo lawyer Jeff Simpson attempted to oust incumbent Chairman Jon Stainbrook from power.

Since then, neither Mr. Stainbrook nor Mr. Simpson has received full recognition as chairman, and both are expected to be placed in nomination Wednesday night.

Mr. DeWine did not return a call seeking comment but appeared to be aiming to calm concerns about an outbreak of tension, as well as the potential for the dispute to continue on through lawsuits.

"Together we will ensure a fair and civil meeting that will enable your county organization to elect its leadership, unify its members, and work toward victory in November," Mr. DeWine wrote in his notice.

Mr. Simpson confirmed that he expects to have his name placed in nomination for chairman.

"I'm looking forward to the vote, I'm looking forward to the reorganization meeting," Mr. Simpson said.

Also yesterday, the Lucas County Board of Elections scheduled a meeting for tomorrow morning to appoint a temporary chairman to open the central committee meeting and then hand over the gavel

to Mr. DeWine.

Linda Howe, executive director of the elections board, said state law requires one of the two Republican members, Ben Marsh or Patrick Kriner, to open the meeting.

Mr. Stainbrook said he would oppose appointing Mr. Kriner to chair the start of the meeting. Mr. Kriner was allied with Mr. Simpson in the failed Dec. 21 takeover attempt, and Mr. Stainbrook repeatedly has called for his resignation or removal from the elections board.

"It's ludicrous to think he should be part of gaveling this meeting to order, because he was part of the thing that caused this whole mess," Mr. Stainbrook said. "It's absurd." He said he wants Mr. Marsh to chair the start of the meeting.

Mr. Kriner said his role, if he's appointed by the other three board members, will be only to gavel the meeting to order.

"I don't know why Jon takes offense at that. He doesn't have a say in what the board's going to do," Mr. Kriner said.

Meanwhile, an appeal that Mr. Stainbrook filed in the 6th District Court of Appeals for Lucas County to remove the cloud over his chairmanship continues to sit undecided by the court.

Court Administrator Frances King said the case is scheduled for review by the judges beginning July 19 and judges could take two to three months after that to make a ruling.

Mr. Stainbrook appealed in February a ruling by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Doneghy that he was not elected chairman in a valid meeting of the party's central committee in 2008.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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