For the first time in a decade, the Lucas County Republican Party has a new chairman.
The party's central committee Saturday evening elected Toledo lawyer and former state office holder Mark Wagoner, Jr. He defeated incumbent Jon Stainbrook.
Mr. Wagoner, of Ottawa Hills, served from 2004 to 2008 in the state House of Representatives and 2008 to 2012 in the state Senate. He is a partner at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick law firm.
Mr. Wagoner addressed a packed crowd at the Woodward High School amphitheater, telling hundreds of people this marks a new chapter for the party.
“It will take several years to build our party to where we would like it to be, but we begin our hard work now,” Mr. Wagoner said.
The party will campaign all over. It will act with vigor, energy, and purpose, Mr. Wagoner said, adding this election marks the turn to take this fight to the Democrats.
“Lucas County residents are ready for change, and we plan to help deliver it,” he said.
Before the final vote, committee members had to first select a temporary chairman to run the meeting. A majority of committee members verbally supported Mr. Wagoner's slate for the role over Mr. Stainbrook, who then asked he not be nominated in the latter vote — instead advocating for party unity behind Mr. Wagoner.
After the meeting, Mr. Stainbrook said he was privileged to serve 10 years and thanked Lucas County voters. He cited the successful elections of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, and President Trump.
“Now we need to work together, unify behind Mike DeWine [in the governor’s race], and get our local candidates elected as well,” Mr. Stainbrook said.
The large crowd that appeared Saturday evening shows this is a vibrant county party, he added.
“It's all good. Everything is very positive, and it couldn't have been a better meeting,” Mr. Stainbrook said.
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To a standing ovation and chants of “Mark!” Mr. Wagoner thanked committee members. They made this possible, he said.
In an interview with The Blade after his speech, Mr. Wagoner described his candidacy as a push for party revitalization and better candidates.
“Our priority is going to be to build the infrastructure of the party, to make sure that we're giving all of our candidates the resources and the support that they need to get their message out to voters,” he said.
There were 250 committee members who attended. Among them was Ron Murphy, who represents a West Toledo precinct.
Mr. Murphy wants to see the party win again and said Mr. Wagoner absolutely can unify members.
“We're just excited. The Republican Party is excited again,” Mr. Murphy said.
Doug Haynam, who represents a Sylvania precinct, said Mr. Wagoner exhibits both organizational and leadership skills. Party members are on the same side, he said, and they share a goal of electing more Republicans.
“We can do well statewide by doing better in Lucas County,” he said.
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