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Politics

County auditor running unopposed after GOP candidate drops out

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    Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez delivers a presentation to the Springfield School Board and members of the public in August.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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    Lucas County Republican Chairman Mark Wagoner, right, and former chairman Jon Stainbrook.

    THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
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    Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez.

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Springfield12p-2

Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez delivers a presentation to the Springfield School Board and members of the public in August.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
Enlarge | Buy This Image

The Republican candidate for county auditor dropped out of the race just days before the GOP’s deadline to find a replacement, leaving incumbent Anita Lopez running unopposed for a top countywide position.

In an Aug. 10 letter to the Lucas County Board of Elections, Jim Wollenweber asked for his name to be removed from the November ballot with an explanation that hints at ongoing tension within the party since its leadership change.

The deadline for Republicans to submit a replacement for Mr. Wollenweber was Aug. 13.

Unlike in past election cycles, new Lucas County GOP chairman Mark Wagoner, Jr., said the party is focusing only on the few races it has the best chance of winning. Democrats have historically dominated countywide elected offices.

“We don’t have limitless resources,” Mr. Wagoner said. “We have to put them into races we can win.”

Reached on Wednesday by phone, Mr. Wollenweber said he wouldn’t fully elaborate on his decision to quit. He said he had been in touch recently with the new party chairman.

But a letter signed by Mr. Wollenweber submitted to the board of elections says, “I am resigning because I have not received from the Lucas County Republican Party the type of support I expected heading into this race. The chairman has not reached out to me in months. In resigning, I want to give Chairman Mark Wagoner the chance to pick a candidate that he will want to work with.”

CTY-chairman09-7

Lucas County Republican Chairman Mark Wagoner, right, and former chairman Jon Stainbrook.

THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
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Mr. Wollenweber said he was involved in drafting the resignation letter but did not type it. He wouldn’t say who did but added he has no issues with Mr. Wagoner or former chairman Jon Stainbrook, who lost the chairmanship in June after a contentious battle for the GOP’s top seat.

“I worked with the person [to write it]. I wanted something short and sweet,” he said. “It was not because of the chairman. I just put that down so the board of elections had something they could understand.”

Mr. Stainbrook said he hasn’t been in contact with Mr. Wollenweber and wasn’t involved in drafting the note.

The GOP is still working through a challenging transition fewer than three months from the Nov. 6 general election.

“As we work though these transition times we’re going to have these sort of bumps in the road,” Mr. Wagoner said.

Last month, the Republican running in the 44th House district dropped out, also citing that he wasn’t getting enough support from the party. That seat is now uncontested and will go to Democrat and former Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.

Ms. Lopez, the Democratic county auditor, has been in office since 2006 and has never run unopposed. The position pays $94,000 a year.

“All I can say is I’m grateful,” she said. “This is very rare that something like this happens.”

Contact Liz Skalka at lskalka@theblade.com, 419-724-6199, or on Twitter @lizskalka.

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