Ohio Republican Party (ORP) Treasurer Dave Johnson won his race for re-election on Tuesday to represent the Youngstown-area 33rd District in the GOP’s State Central Committee. However, conservatives and reformers won several ORP victories elsewhere. 

Johnson defeated challenger Rick Barron, who ran on implementing rigorous and regular audits of committee finances, something many in the party believe Johnson has neglected. Alleged financial irregularities, including $3 million said to have “gone missing” from party financial records, have led several ORP members to sue Johnson and state-party Chair Bob Paduchik. 

Anti-establishment forces within the state GOP did find some success Tuesday. Denise Verdi, the only plaintiff in the litigation whose reelection was challenged last night, won her bid to stay on the committee, besting Terri Shawhan. 

Verdi told The Ohio Star that her opponent’s campaign output suggested much money was spent trying to unseat her. The committeewoman said she looks forward to persisting in her effort to make the committee more transparent and to end the practice of endorsing candidates in primaries.

“What I plan to do is continue to push for reform and look for every opportunity to amend the bylaws,” she said. 

Many candidates advocating for change in committee practices ran with the backing of the Ohio Republican PAC. This grassroots organization does not itself take positions on internal party matters but does advocate for conservatism and constitutional originalism.

Gary James, running with the support of OHRPAC, handily beat incumbent Jack Etheridge as well as challengers Fred Dailey and Robin Hovis. He will represent the ORP in the 19th District, which covers the Delaware-Mt. Vernon region. 

Also, in that district, incumbent Committeewoman Melanie Leneghan had the OHRPAC backing for her reelection and held off four challengers to keep the seat. (ORP has two committee seats per state-Senate district, one held by a man and the other by a woman.)

In the Cleveland area, current Committeeman Shannon Burns ran with the organization’s endorsement and crushed two challengers, Zacch Ashcraft and Daniel R. Langshaw. During the campaign, Burns surmised that Ashcraft likely had establishment-GOP financial backing due to the volume of literature he sent to voters in the mail. 

In the 18th District which neighbors Burns’s OHRPAC supported Jack Boyle against incumbent Dan Carter and challenger Steve Salvi. At this writing, that race is too close to call between Boyle and Carter. 

Meanwhile, in Canton, OHRPAC-supported Chris Maurer unseated District 29’s incumbent Committeewoman Sarah Brown. 

In Columbus, OHRPAC endorsed Jim Burgess, who trounced challenger Brad McCloud for the District-3 committeeman seat. 

But OHRPAC did suffer some defeats in the Columbus area. Committeewoman Susie O’Brien held on to her District-16 post, defeating OHRPAC-backed candidate Stacey Bayliff. The PAC’s hopeful for the man’s seat in that district, Geoff Hatcher, lost his race to Josh Brown. 

Another Franklin-County-based candidate the group supported was Joe Healy, who lost to Frank Reed in the 15th District. 

In the 8th District, based in Cincinnati, incumbent Committeeman Alex M. Triantafilou bested OHRPAC-endorsed George Brunemann. 

In Toledo, OHRPAC supported the husband-wife team of Timothy and Abby Brentlinger for the two District-11 seats. The Brentlingers lost respectively to Mark Wagoner and incumbent Donna Owens.

Committeeman Mark Bainbridge, a CPA and critic of the leadership of the ORP, did not run for re-election.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Ohio Capitol” by Jsjessee. CC BY-SA 2.0.