Mark Wagoner is running for the post of Lucas County Republican Party chairman against incumbent Jon Stainbrook.
We’re starting to see early sparring in the contest for Lucas County Republican chairman, an unpaid post held for the last 10 years by Jon Stainbrook.
An election is coming up for the Republican Party Central Committee and, for the first time in 10 years, enemies of Mr. Stainbrook in the Lucas County GOP ranks have a rival candidate in former state representative and senator Mark Wagoner, who might be able to match Mr. Stainbrook’s skill at recruiting candidates to run for central committee.
To win the post, a candidate will need a majority of the 312-seat county central committee — one for each precinct in the county. Those people are elected on May 8 and the deadline to become a candidate is Feb. 7. Mr. Stainbrook excels at getting people to sign up for these even-numbered election year primary contests.
Mr. Stainbrook’s current strategy for holding on to his job, a novel one for him, is to de-emphasize himself. Last week, the Lucas County Republican Party issued a statement inviting Republicans to run for office in 2018. The invitation went out under the name of the party’s executive director, Silas Tsang, rather than that of Mr. Stainbrook.
The week before that, Mr. Stainbrook insisted to The Blade, acting as if he really believed it, that the upcoming election for central committee has nothing to do with electing the party chairman. He said the central committee election is about electing the central committee chairman.
The central committee elects the party chairman, Mr. Stainbrook’s job. Everyone knows it is his position that hangs in the balance. The election for party chairman will be at a party organization meeting held after the votes are certified from the May 8 primary.
Meanwhile, a recent parody posted on Facebook by the “Republicans for a New Lucas County,” the political action committee created to support Mr. Wagoner’s run for chairman, showed his face superimposed over the label for Mr. Clean household cleaner with the words “Stain Remover.”
Mr. Wagoner has a reputation as a hard worker and a straight shooter. He is respected. Mr. Stainbrook carries the wounds of 10 years on the job. Many of those wounds are self-inflicted. To say that he is controversial would be an understatement. But more to the point, the party has lost ground during Mr. Stainbrook’s chairmanship. He chases more people away than he attracts. And the Republicans who do get elected tend to be the ones who operate on their own and at a distance from Mr. Stainbrook.
Mr. Wagoner is promising not only to clean up his party but to revive it and make the GOP competitive again, in Lucas County and in Toledo proper. That would be a tall order. But the party is surely not competitive now.
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