Newsmakers 2010: Win some, lose some: Jon StainbrookWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook overcame controversy in 2010 and said he has since worked to move the local party forward But for roughly six months, the leadership of the Lucas County Republican Party (LCRP) was in question.
On Dec. 21, 2009, during a LCRP central committee meeting an intra-party battle broke out. Two separate factions declared they were leadership of the party; one with Stainbrook as chairman, the other with Jeff Simpson as chairman. Both men acted in the forthcoming months as if they were head of the party.
A number of court cases were filed regarding the dispute and on Feb. 11, a judge found that neither Stainbrook nor Simpson were head of the LCRP. The ruling also stated the Lucas County Board of Elections (BOE) was required by law to forward the two competing factions’ list of central committee members to the Ohio Republican Party to decide the true chairperson.
The leadership battle raged through the May primaries and in June, with assistance from the state party, the LCRP’s central committee hosted a meeting to elect new leadership.
On June 10, Stainbrook was elected to his second term as LCRP chairman by a standing vote. During that meeting Meghan Gallagher was elected chairwoman of the LCRP central committee.
Gallagher defeated Paul Hoag, of the Simpson faction, by a vote of 147 to 111, in a secret written ballot.
“My leadership was never in question because we always had the vote and support,” Stainbrook told Toledo Free Press in a telephone interview.
Stainbrook said the dispute was caused by the BOE wanting to cast doubt on the party’s leadership so it could to keep appointments from going through to the board.
“I made it very clear that there was corruption at the Lucas County BOE,” Stainbrook said. “After all this mess and all the scandals, someone had to step up and say enough is enough.”
Stainbrook had previously accused Lynn Olman, former member of the BOE, of bringing members to the December meeting to try and defeat the fact that you need to have petitions to get on the ballot.
At the time, Olman said the accusation was “laughable.”
“Never have I gotten so much credit for doing so little,” he said. “I wasn’t the person who planned the event and I didn’t make any motions, I just happened to be there.”
On March 1, during the leadership dispute, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner appointed Ben Marsh to the BOE to replace Olman. Neither Stainbrook’s nor Simpson’s recommendation for the position were considered due to the dispute.
Since being declared chairman of the LCRP, Stainbrook has been helping the party raise money and get out the vote for candidates. Stainbrook has also assisted and met with state-wide candidates when they came to the county.
In Lucas County, Barbara Sears and Steve Yarbrough were the only Republicans to win. At the state level Republicans swept the election, but not one non-judicial candidate won in the county.
Despite not carrying any elections for the statewide candidates, Stainbrook said he felt the local party assisted the Republicans statewide.
“It’s so hard when you have the Democrat machine to work against,” he said. “To win you have to have a vehicle these candidates can run through. You can’t just put candidates on the ballot and not have any volunteers with literature, or infrastructure. I believe we delivered on that.”
For the county it’s always been about “stopping the bleeding” against the Democratic Party, Stainbrook said.
For many of the races, more votes came in for candidates than the total number of registered Republicans in the county.
Volunteers did a number of different literature drops for candidates as well as made phone calls on their behalf, Stainbrook said.
The LCRP phone bank was honored with a visit from John Boehner, the house Republican leader, for breaking the national single-day phone call record. The phone bank made 18,685 calls on behalf of the Republican Party on Sept. 25, beating the previous record by 1,000 calls.
“We wouldn’t be recognized by a visit from John Boehner unless we had done something that deserved merit,” Stainbrook said.
Individuals who made phone calls at the bank were tracked by a barcode, Stainbrook said. The majority of the calls were made by individuals Stainbrook brought in, he said.
Tom Waniewski, Toledo City Councilman and Republican candidate for state senator District 11, said regardless who won in June, Republican candidates would have faced the same problems. Waniewski did the majority of his campaigning on his own, but did receive support from the party dropping literature, he said.
Republican George Sarantou said Stainbrook and the party were very involved in the elections locally and statewide. The party assisted Sarantou by passing out literature and sending volunteers to attend events with him.
Stainbrook and the LCRP are
currently helping the Toledo city councilman with his contest of the election.
“There is absolutely no way I wouldn’t stand beside [Sarantou] when I feel he was wronged,” Stainbrook said.
Sarantou, candidate for Lucas County Commissioner, filed a Contest of Election Dec. 13 in regard to the outcome of the November commissioner’s race. Sarantou was originally declared Lucas County commissioner by 1,376 votes but lost the election to Carol Contrada by 191 votes after provisional ballots were counted.
“They’re assisting me with a lot of research in the questions we’ve raised,” Sarantou said. “So far they’ve been very, very helpful.”
Sarantou’s next court date is Jan. 3.