In an effort to quell a vote of no confidence at an upcoming state party meeting, Ohio GOP chairman Kevin DeWine announced yesterday that he would not run for reelection next January.
In a letter sent to the party’s state central committee members DeWine said he was sacrificing a second term in order to reduce infighting going in the 2012 elections. But sources close to Ohio Governor John Kasich say if DeWine and his allies were serious about uniting the party, DeWine would resign immediately.
“We want him out now,” said a Kasich representative. “He is admitting there is a problem, but is asking the committee to keep the problem around through 2012.”
DeWine is currently serving his second term as state chairman – a position he was unanimously reelected to in January 2011. However, sources with knowledge of the situation claim DeWine did not actively work to help elect Kasich the previous November, leading Kasich to call on DeWine to resign soon after he assumed the governorship. DeWine declined, and two have been battling for control of the party ever since.
The tension came to a head on March 6, when Ohio Republicans went to the polls to elect a presidential candidate and a new slate of state central committee members – the 66 member board that has the power to approve or remove a state party chair.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, allies of Kasich and DeWine both claim they won a majority of state central committee seats. Kasich’s allies told Red Alert Politics they believed they could count on at least 34 members of the committee to vote with the governor. The Ohio GOP has continually ignored Red Alert Politics’ requests for a comment.
On April 13 the new state central committee will meet for the first time. Sources close to Kasich implied that state central committee members supporting the governor would force a vote to have DeWine removed from office. However, their preference would be that DeWine steps down beforehand in order to avoid more drama and negative attention from the media.
In his letter to state central committee members, DeWine said that, “Following this month’s primary election, I’m confident that a strong majority of members support my continued leadership of our party. But continuing to put this party through such a process would strain the bonds among us that will be critically important as we prepare for what will be the most significant election of our lifetimes.”
Franklin County GOP Chair Doug Preisse, who is spearheading Kasich’s effort to remove DeWine from office, told Red Alert Politics that “It makes no sense at all” for DeWine to wait until January to step down. “There’s a lot of men and women on both sides of this issue who are good of will and hope that there’s a cordial transition before the 13th so we don’t have to air any more public laundry,” Preisse said.
Preisse said the upcoming meeting is not normally used to elect new officers, but said it is generally used as a “reorganizational meeting.”
“But the fact is, as I say, it is a “reorganizational meeting,” and there is a growing – and we think overwhelming – number of members of this committee and supporters who this it’s time for a change in the immediate future, even if that’s any announced purpose by the state for the meeting on the 13th,” Preisse said.
He said that if such a vote were to occur and fail on April 13 and the motion to remove DeWine were to fail, it seems obvious to him that the “the problem of dysfunctional party remains,” as well.
“So that’s not a happy resolution for anyone, except for two or three party officials and advisors who are attempting to cling to power for their own personal reasons,” he said.
In an interview previous to DeWine’s announcement Brett Buerck, a Mitt Romney consultant and Ohio native with close ties to DeWine, said he didn’t understand why the Kasich administration was more concerned with “whining” than winning in November. He also claimed that some of the infighting before Ohio’s March 6 primary was caused by disputes among operatives and officials who are supporting other presidential candidates than Romney.
“I could work with the worst guy in the world if it meant that the worst Republican is still a lot better than what we’ve got in the White House right now, and I guess it disappoints me that they’re aren’t other adults around the table that are working for the Santorum or Gingrich campaigns that understand that,” he said. “Hopefully at someone point maturity will win out, I know it will from Governor Romney’s side.”