Attempt to oust Ohio Republican Party chair fails
Shortly after newly-elected members of the Ohio Republican Party's Central Committee were sworn into office at a meeting in Columbus, the fight to change the agenda to include a vote to oust the party's leader ensued. But after more than an hour of contentious debate, Ohio Republican Party Chair Bob Paduchik was able to stave off the effort.
Fights over party leadership are not new to the party. Republicans, who now control all statewide executive offices and a majority on the Ohio Supreme Court, have been divided over leadership in recent years. Paduchik is the third chair of the ORP in the past six years. And some committee members wanted to force him out and replace him with Vice Chair Bryan Williams.
Those members said they were frustrated with the party’s endorsement of Gov. Mike DeWine in the May primary. Others said they don’t like the way the party has handled its finances.
Laura Rosenberger, a central committee member from the Springfield area, said many party officials were unhappy with what she calls a ”lack of leadership” from Paduchik. And she said new central committee members, who were sworn-in Friday, “should not have to serve under a leadership that they did not choose.”
Other committee members who agreed with Rosenberger cited legal documents, saying Ohio law mandates leadership should be determined at the first organizational meeting after an election. Normally that meeting would have been earlier in the summer but not this year.
The May primary was delayed until August because of problems with the redistricting process, those new members are just now coming on board, about 60 days before the November 8 general election.
Sabrina Warner, a new member who owns a restaurant at Buckeye Lake, said it would be wise of Paduchik to "take into consideration all of the newbies on the floor" and allow the election for a new leader to happen.
"We have taken out seats, a lot of seats, because many of us are unhappy with the leadership that is happening within the Republican party," Warner said.
Warner, herself, beat a longtime Republican leader recently. Former Ohio attorney general, state auditor, and state senator Betty Montgomery lost her central committee seat to Warner last month in a surprise upset.
But former Ohio lawmaker and Central Committee Member Michelle Schneider said she is concerned about the effort by some on the committee to immediately try to remove Paduchik.
"It's time to put the cheese on the cracker, people. Let's talk about what's really going on here. There's a small group of people that have been holding secret meetings and zoom calls with other members. That's never happened before," Schneider said.
Many committee members and Paduchik himself said now is not the time for changes in leadership to take place. When it became clear that the effort would fail, many of those pushing for Paduchik's ouster tried to adjourn the meeting without finishing its business. But the central committee voted 44-20, on secret ballots, to reject that motion.
After the meeting, Paduchik wouldn’t say if he plans to run for re-election at the party's next central committee meeting in January.
“I’m singularly focused on the elections here in November and we will talk about that after we get through victory in November,” Paduchik said.
Winning in November was a concern cited by many during the meeting, including Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who spoke to the group at the beginning of the meeting.
"The goal here is to get on the same team and beat the Democrats in November," Vance said.