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Politics

Stainbrook, Wagoner speak to Lucas County GOP precinct candidate hopefuls

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    Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook

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    Mark Wagoner, Jr.

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    From left: John Kasich, Mark Wagoner, Toledo city council member George Sarantou and Lucas County GOP chair Jon Stainbrook in 2009.

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Former state officeholder Mark Wagoner, Jr., is claiming to have nearly matched political rival Jon Stainbrook in recruiting candidates for the battle to elect a new chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party.

Mr. Wagoner, who has put together a grassroots campaign to oust Mr. Stainbrook as chairman, said his supporters filed petitions to run as candidates for nearly 88 percent of the 312 county precincts.

The question now is how many of the potential 276 precinct committee hopefuls will get elected in the May 8 primary for the opportunity to vote for chairmanship of the party.

Mr. Stainbrook could not be reached for comment Thursday, but Meghan Gallagher — chairman of the Republican Party central committee and an ally of Mr. Stainbrook — said Mr. Stainbook secured candidates committed to supporting him to run for precincts county-wide.

She said Mr. Stainbrook put qualified candidates on the ballot for treasurer, commissioner, auditor, and the District 11 Ohio Senate seat.

“We field central committee candidates in all 312 precincts, something no one has done since I can remember,” she said. “Mark said he wants to reinvigorate the party. But he failed to walk in a lot of neighborhoods in the county.

“We have support in every precinct in the county and we have turned in petitions to show that,” she added.

Mr. Wagoner said he and his supporters will turn their attention to getting their candidates elected in the primary. The goal of his backers, who call themselves Republicans for a New Lucas County, is to make the party competitive again.

“This was the product of a lot of hard work by a lot of great people who want to see revitalization to the Lucas County Republican Party and bring balance to the elected offices of Lucas County,” Mr. Wagoner said.

According to election officials, 598 people declared candidacy for the Republican central committee. The Board of Elections is scheduled to meet Feb. 16 to certify the petitions.

In the past, Mr. Stainbrook has ensured his election by being able to recruit more candidates for the obscure precinct posts. The central committee elects the chairman at a reorganization meeting to be held in June.

Mr. Wagoner said that as the primary draws closer, he plans to reach out to as many precinct committee candidates as he can.

“We are talking to everybody who filed petitions to be a member of the central committee. We are looking to grow the Republican Party in any way we can,” he said. “We don’t want this to be a one-sided affair. We want this to be a team effort. We know that some people who support us were not initially on our recruiting list. We want them to be involved and engaged.”

Mr. Stainbrook has won five consecutive two-year terms to lead the county Republicans. Mr. Wagoner argued, however, that the party under his leadership has failed in 31 attempts to get a Republican elected to any of the county row offices.

“If this was a sports team, business, or any organization and it had a record like this, I think its members would want to head in a new direction with its leadership,” he said.

Ms. Gallagher said Mr. Wagoner, as a member of the party’s executive committee, must also take responsibility for failing to put Republicans in office.

“He is still on the executive committee of the Republican Party. He has been for over 12 years. He also owns this as well. He is responsible for his part of being in the leadership of the party. He hasn’t done anything,” she said.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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