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Published: Wednesday, 3/6/2013

Ohio Republicans set to choose new leader April 26

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Republican Party is expected to elect its new leader on April 26 after Chairman Bob Bennett announced he will make good on his promise to bow out early from the new term to which he was just re-elected.

In a letter sent to state central committee members, Mr. Bennett said he will step down again on May 31.

“Even though we have discussed the pending necessity of such an action, I had been uncertain in my mind as to the timing of this step,” Mr. Bennett wrote. “It has become clear to me that now is the best opportunity for an orderly transition to a new chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.”

He indicated that he expects the 66-member committee to elect a new chairman at its next meeting on April 26.

“I believe I step back at a time when the party is strong and ready for any number of excellent new leaders who continue to emerge from our Ohio Republican ranks,” he wrote.

Mr. Bennett chaired the Republican Party for 21 years, handing over the reins to protege Kevin DeWine, a former Dayton area state representative in 2009. His absence was brief, however. He returned to the party’s helm last year to resolve a bitter tug of war over control of the party as Gov. John Kasich maneuvered to oust Mr. DeWine as chairman and replace him with his own choice.

Mr. Bennett has offered to say on as chairman emeritus. He would leave it to the new chairman to decide what his duties would be, but he specifically pointed to such things as fund-raising and offering his experience on election law and redistricting.

Mr. Bennett’s tenure has been marked with both highs and lows. In last year’s election, the party was unable to defeat either President Obama or U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, but the GOP tightened its grip on the Ohio General Assembly.



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