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Election of Ohio GOP Chair Pits Trump Versus Kasich

The proxy battle between Ohio Gov. John Kasich and President-elect Donald Trump over the Ohio Republican chairman's job took a new twist Wednesday with a missive from 38 county GOP chairmen that backs Trump's favorite.

By Darrel Rowland

The proxy battle between Ohio Gov. John Kasich and President-elect Donald Trump over the Ohio Republican chairman's job took a new twist Wednesday with a missive from 38 county GOP chairmen that backs Trump's favorite.

Jane Timken, GOP vice-chairwoman for Stark County, received the support over current state Chairman Matt Borges, who is backed by Kasich.

Both sides are ardently lobbying the 66 members of the state Republican Central Committee, which will choose the party's leader on Friday.

"I've made calls to the people who are on the state committee and told them (what) I think Matt has done," Kasich said.

"We kind of won everything, right? The (Ohio Supreme) Court, all the statewide offices. We've got more numbers in the House than we've ever had. The Senate.

"Matt's a good guy. He's a friend of mine, so I'm helping him out by doing that."

But the joint email from the county chairmen said: "We not only believe that the views and sentiments of county Republican chairmen ought to be considered by the committee on such important matters as the election of a state chairman but that the committee and most certainly the state chairman ought to be absolutely unwavering in their support of all Republican nominees, at every level.

"Clearly, though, this was NOT the case in the instance of our 2016 Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump. Consequently, we are now in jeopardy of having the state party be completely at odds with the new Trump administration, as well as with the (Republican National Committee) itself. This is, quite obviously, an untenable if not wholly unacceptable situation which only you, the voting members of the state committee, have the power to resolve."

Both Borges and Timken say they have the needed votes.

"I don't think vote counting is as easy as it sounds," said Borges' top assistant, Katie Eagan. " There's a difference between a nice conversation and a confirmed vote."

Franklin County GOP Chairman Doug Preisse, a Borges backer who has toted votes in many party contests, said in an email to the state party panel, "It is obvious in talking with members of the committee that Matt has the support of a large majority."

Dispatch Reporter Randy Ludlow contributed to this story.

(c)2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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