Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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GOP infighting

It is apparent that no tricks are considered too dirty to be used by disgruntled members of the Lucas County Republican Party trying to get rid of party Chairman Jon Stainbrook. It also is becoming clear that for some, beating Democrats in November runs a distant second to winning the factional war that has been raging for months between county Republicans.

Shortly before the county GOP central committee met to elect local party leaders earlier this month, a flyer was sent to supporters of Mr. Stainbrook intimating that law enforcement officers would be at the meeting and could check committee members for outstanding warrants.

Nobody is stepping forward to claim responsibility for the flyer, which was intended to scare off some of Mr. Stainbrook's supporters in the hope of swinging the election to Jeff Simpson, leader of a faction within the county party that has been trying to oust Mr. Stainbrook for months.

Nor is anyone claiming authorship of a second, anonymous flyer mailed to Stainbrook supporters that sought to entice them to miss the meeting by offering them expensive gifts at a fictitious Wal-Mart grand opening.

But it is known that Patrick Kriner, one of the leaders of the anti-Stainbrook group, hired two sheriff's deputies to attend the meeting, paying for them out of his own pocket.

Their presence at the meeting check-in desk lent credence to the flyer's message.

Of course, Mr. Kriner contends that he innocently hired the deputies at the request of the state party. But repeated attempts to confirm Mr. Kriner's version have been ignored by Ohio GOP leaders.

In any event, the claim makes no sense. State party leaders undoubtedly were aware that Mr. Stainbrook was in charge of arrangements - including a police presence - for the reorganization meeting, which was run by Ohio Republican Chairman Kevin DeWine.

Mr. Kriner says Mr. Stainbrook is being paranoid. Even in victory, he says, Mr. Stainbrook imagines enemies everywhere. It is true that Mr. Stainbrook's frequent cries of "Wolf!" make it tempting to ignore him. But it's also true that you're not being paranoid if someone really is out to get you.

Similar to sausage making, politics can be messy and it's often better not to know what goes on behind the scenes.

Even so, private political battles that spill over into the public arena usually are little more than an embarrassment.

This year, however, such public infighting hurts Republican candidates across the state hoping to take advantage of voter dissatisfaction with Democratic leadership.

Locally, the constant bickering, accusations, lawsuits, and dirty tricks dishearten rank-and-file county Republicans and threaten to depress GOP voter turnout on Election Day. That's bad for all the residents of Lucas County - Republicans, Democrats, or independents - and bad for democracy.

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