The Lucas County Board of Elections on Tuesday certified winners from the May 4 primary election, leaving incumbent Republican chairman Jon Stainbrook's lead in central committee candidates over challenger Jeff Simpson virtually unchanged.
The next step in the fight for control of the Lucas County Republican Party is for the state GOP to schedule a meeting next month of the central committee in which the local chairman will be elected.
The board settled six ties in Republican central committee races with coin tosses and then scheduled an automatic recount of those tied races for June 2. In all, 322 people were elected to Republican central committee precinct seats. Democrats were also certified to central committee seats, but without the backdrop of a contest for chairman.
Elections Director Linda Howe said the Republican Party's central committee must meet between six and 15 days from when the votes are certified. She said that clock starts running after the recount, making the window June 8-17.
Mr. Stainbrook disagreed with the board's scheduling of a recount day, saying the state mandatory recount law does not apply to central committee elections.
Jason Mauk, the Ohio GOP executive director, said the meeting will be either June 5 or June 12. However, the June 5 date may not be available under the board of elections' decision yesterday to schedule a mandatory recount.
Mr. Stainbrook is seeking re-election as chairman when the newly elected central committee meets.
Mr. Simpson, a Toledo lawyer, who has waged an unsuccessful battle so far to have himself declared the rightful chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, is expected to seek election at the same meeting.
Based on an analysis by The Blade, Mr. Stainbrook goes into that meeting with a significant lead of about 184 central committee members allied with him, and 103 for Mr. Simpson, leaving 35 with no clear allegiance.
Mr. Simpson said he would continue to campaign among central committee members in hopes of winning the party chairmanship at the upcoming central committee meeting. "It's a little early to declare victory for either side," Mr. Simpson said.
Mr. Stainbrook said, "It's all about who shows up at the meeting." He said he would seek support among all the elected central committee members.
"Now it's time to bring it all together. We out-recruited the Democrats on their central committee and this is great for the statewide effort," Mr. Stainbrook said.
Also yesterday, Mr. Simpson filed challenges against 10 central committee candidates who he said did not live at their listed addresses. Mr. Stainbrook called the challenge "another futile attempt to disqualify and disenfranchise more people" from being able to participate in the central committee meeting.
The status of the local party leadership has been unclear since a February ruling of Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Doneghy that neither Mr. Stainbrook nor Mr. Simpson was elected chairman in a valid organizational meeting. Mr. Stainbrook has filed an appeal of the ruling in the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals.
Because of Judge Doneghy's ruling, the state Republican Party has stepped in to schedule and run the central committee's reorganization meeting.