Richard May, the Republican nominee for the 9th Congressional District, announced Monday he is suspending his campaign in Lucas County for two months to protest a “lack of civility” in the conduct of last week’s Lucas County Republican Party central committee meeting.
The leader of a Tea Party faction of Republicans in Cleveland, Mr. May said he was disturbed by what he characterized as “bouncers” hired by party chief Jon Stainbrook with party funds to provide security at the meeting June 11. He called on “the civic leadership of Toledo to become involved to fix this toxic situation that reflects poorly on Toledo.”
Tea Party protesters allied with Bill Delaney, a candidate for party chairman against Mr. Stainbrook, the incumbent, tried to disrupt the central committee meeting by yelling from the spectators’ section at the rear of the Premier banquet hall on Heatherdowns Boulevard. Several were ejected after repeated warnings to be quiet.
In a confrontation caught on a widely distributed video, protester Dennis Lange was shoved backward out the front door and then was seen on the ground arguing at the guard.
“The physical confrontations and acts of uncivility are embarrassing to Toledo, the Republican Party, and the conservative movement as the Toledo media reported,” Mr. May said.
Mr. May is the second prominent Republican to criticize publicly the spectacle that unfolded at last week’s meeting. Toledo Councilman Rob Ludeman walked out of the meeting, calling it “anarchy” and saying he wants an accounting of the cost of the security contingent.
Mr. May admitted that he faces long odds in defeating U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) in heavily Democratic Lucas County. He said that a vigorous campaign by the party’s congressional candidate helps Republican candidates down the ballot, even if he loses. He hopes his absence from the campaign will jolt party leaders at the state level to get involved in restoring civility to the party in Toledo, he said.
Mr. Stainbrook said he hired security for the event because it was requested by the Premier’s manager. He defended his actions, saying Delaney supporters planned for two months to disrupt the meeting. He said the Delaney supporters pushed and shoved, tried to provoke confrontations, and tried to “bum rush” the entrance for credentialed central committee members.
“They were completely embarrassing,” Mr. Stainbrook said. “They wanted to cause a ruckus, and they made mockery out of themselves.”
He said the security consisted of three police officers — not Toledo police — two private security guards who are professional bounty hunters, and a handful of volunteers.
The meeting was a biennial reorganization of the party leadership after new central committee members were elected May 6. Mr. Stainbrook easily won re-election.