Patrick Kriner, left, and Peter Handwork were nominated to the elections board by a splinter group of county Republicans.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted will not entertain the board of elections nominations from a splinter Lucas County Republican group — at least not unless they get recognized by the state Republican Party, a Husted spokesman said Tuesday.
A rival Republican group claiming to have elected a new chairman said it sent two nominations for a pair of vacant board seats to Mr. Husted. But State Republican Party chairman Matt Borges served notice June 18 that the party headed by Jon Stainbrook is the only officially recognized Lucas County Republican Party.
“The state party is the official arbiter of recognition of county parties,” said Matt McClellan, spokesman for Mr. Husted. “They’ve already made that determination, and our office is duty-bound to work with the group that’s been recognized.”
The previous day Mr. McClellan said he did not know what stance Mr. Husted would take with respect to rival nominations to the Stainbrook branch of the party.
The Lucas County Board of Elections is in political limbo since three of its directors — Democrat Ron Rothenbuhler and Republicans Stainbrook and Anthony DeGidio — were removed on June 5 by Mr. Husted for allowing a “culture of dysfunction.”
To replace the two Republicans, the Lucas County Republican Party nominated Stainbrook operatives Ben Roberts and Kelly Bensman.
To replace Mr. Rothenbuhler, the Lucas County Democratic Party executive committee nominated party treasurer and former Toledo School Board member Brenda Hill.
Mr. Husted rejected Mr. Roberts and Ms. Bensman as too affiliated with past controversies and asked for new nominations. He has not acted on the Democratic nomination.
Mr. Stainbrook said Tuesday he welcomed Mr. Hu-sted’s stance, accepting his committee as the official Lucas County Republican Party. Mr. Stainbrook said he hopes it can be the basis for resolving a situation that has cast him and the Republican secretary of state, who is up for re-election this year, as adversaries.
“I’m very happy and satisfied with the secretary of state’s response. I’d like to accomplish the same positive results that were reached today by working on a solution that is amicable to both the executive committee of the Lucas County Republican Party and the secretary of state,” he said.
David Kissinger, chairman of the splinter group, said he was disappointed Mr. Husted refuses to consider his group’s nomination, but claimed the law is clearly on his side and expects the state Republican Party to acknowledge it.
“I certainly would have hoped to have a different response. What I believe is the state central committee needs to do what they’re required to do by law, which is meet within 30 days,” Mr. Kissinger said, despite assertions to the contrary by the state party spokesman.
The Republican Party is set to meet today to decide whether to nominate two new candidates or file a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that Mr. Husted did not have the right to reject Ms. Bensman and Mr. Roberts.
The rival Republicans met Monday and nominated retired Judge Peter Handwork and Sylvania businessman Patrick Kriner for the two election board posts.
The rival group is made up of local Tea Party activists and some of the same people who have been battling Mr. Stainbrook since he won the local GOP chairmanship in 2008 for the first time.
State party spokesman Chris Schrimpf said the Kissinger group did not follow the law allowing two rival groups to compete for state recognition.
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com, 419-724-6058, or on Twitter @TomFTroy.
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