Executive committee members Troy Dowling, left, and Ryan Schueler count ballots during the meeting at the Maumee Senior Center to nominate Judge Peter Handwork and Patrick Kriner.
A splinter group of Lucas County Republicans claiming to be the rightful county GOP met Monday and nominated its own candidates for vacancies on the Lucas County Board of Elections, even as it was being shunned by the Ohio Republican Party.
The executive committee of the group voted at the Maumee Senior Center to nominate Peter Handwork, formerly a judge of the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals, and Patrick Kriner, a former chairman both of the board of elections and the county Republicans.
Judge Handwork, who was not at the meeting, said he was flattered by the nomination and is is willing to serve.
“The board of elections needs people who aren‘t influenced by personal or political agendas,” Judge Handwork said. “The people of Lucas County need to have confidence in their electoral process. If I’m ever given a chance to serve, all I know is that I’ll do the very best I can to make sure the electorate of Lucas County have confidence in the system.”
Mr. Kriner, after the meeting, said that board of elections members used to leave partisan politics at the door.
“It was Republicans and Democrats working together for an accurate vote count and integrity in the board of elections. It’s time to come back to that,’’ Mr. Kriner said. ”The challenges that we face today in the world of technology, the board of elections is no longer a partisan appointment. We have to have people who know what they’re doing, who are technologically savvy, and can come to work and do a good job.“
David Kissinger, a Maumee Republican claiming to be the Lucas County Republican Party’s rightful chairman, said the two names will be sent to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for appointment to two vacant Republican seats on the elections board.
However, Ohio Republican Chairman Matt Borges already has notified Mr. Husted that the splinter group Mr. Kissinger heads has no claim to leadership status. The state party recognizes Jon Stainbrook and the rest of the executive committee that was elected June 11 in a reorganization of the county central committee, Mr. Borges said.
Mr. Kissinger contends that state law requires the Republican State Central Committee to hold a meeting by July 18 to rule on whether his or Mr. Stainbrook‘s executive committees are the valid Lucas County Republican Party.
Chris Schrimpf, a state GOP spokesman, said Monday that Mr. Kissinger is incorrect and the party only recognizes the group formed at the June 11 meeting.
Rob Ludeman, a member of Toledo City Council, was among those sworn in by Mr. Kissinger at the Monday meeting as members of the Republican executive committee. Mr. Ludeman called the scene at the June 11 meeting, which involved security guards hired by Mr. Stainbrook, “anarchy” and walked out.
Mr. Husted removed Republicans Stainbrook and Tony DeGidio, along with Democratic Party board member Ron Rothenbuhler, on June 5 for what he said was an ongoing culture of dysfunction by the elections office of Lucas County. Last week Mr. Husted rejected two replacement nominees from the county GOP, Kelly Bensman and Ben Roberts.
Mr. Stainbrook said the executive committee will convene at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Main Street Bar & Grill in East Toledo to decide whether to nominate two new names or to mount an Ohio Supreme Court challenge to Mr. Husted’s rejections of Ms. Bensman and Mr. Roberts.
Mr. Husted has not yet decided whether to approve the Lucas County Democratic Party‘s nomination of Brenda Hill to replace Mr. Rothenbuhler.
Husted spokesman Matt McClellan declined to speculate on what Mr. Husted will do if he receives nominations from the Kissinger executive committee.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.