Ohio GOP Vice Chair Williams Announces Bid for Chair, Voices Concern About ‘Unlawful’ Vote Postponement

Ohio Republican Party (ORP) Vice Chairman Bryan Williams on Monday announced he will seek election as the committee’s chairman at a reorganization meeting to be held on September 9. 

It is widely anticipated within the party that incumbent Chairman Bob Paduchik will seek re-election as the ORP’s leader. Williams and other reform-minded conservatives close to the ORP anticipate, based on statements they say they’ve heard from Paduchik, that the chair will seek to defer the leadership elections to a meeting in January of next year, something party leaders have done in the past. 

The ORP held its membership elections during the August 2 special primary. Opponents of Paduchik largely celebrated the results and have predicted they have the votes to oust him. 

This week, Williams wrote to all members of the ORP’s State Central Committee, who will ultimately vote to elect their chairperson and other officers. In his message, the vice chairman voiced his concern that an attempt to put the vote off until next year would be “unlawful.”

Ohio state law stipulates that “members-elect of each major political party” must vote to decide their state chairperson and other executive team members “following the declaration of the results by the boards of elections of the election of members of the state central committees … .” The party’s own bylaws furthermore state that party-officer elections need to take place “at the first meeting of the State Central Committee following the election and qualification of its members … .”

Several years ago, the party amended its bylaws to read that leadership votes take place “during the month of January of each odd-numbered year” but the ORP rule calling for officer elections at the first committee meeting remains in effect. Because of the latter provision, and because of how state law treats the issue, Williams insists that the party must choose its leadership team at next month’s event.

“For the September 9 meeting, I am concerned Chairman Paduchik will propose an unlawful agenda that will deny this Committee its right and duty to elect five new officers including the chairman, in violation of the Ohio Revised Code §3517.04 quoted with this letter,” the vice chairman wrote. 

Williams, the government-affairs director at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Ohio, as well as the Summit County GOP chair and a county election-board member, has vice-chaired the ORP for two two-year terms. He said he has known Paduchik, who also hails from Summit County, for over 35 years. While Williams said Paduchik demonstrated considerable campaign proficiency as an advisor to former President Donald Trump, he finds his party-leadership approach deficient in many ways.

“The wheels started to come off the wagon throughout the process of his two years as chairman,” the vice chair said. “His contact has been more and more alienating not just to me but to all members of the committee. He has a very autocratic leadership style which does not confer or take direction from the elected committee; he’s a party boss of one and that’s proving to be very dis-unifying and very divisive.” 

One source of conflict between the party’s top two officers in recent months, Williams said, stemmed from a request Paduchik made that Williams resign from his position. Williams attributes that request, to which he didn’t acquiesce, to the vice chair’s declaring himself opposed to the ORP endorsing contested candidates in the run-ups to primaries, something Williams said he would continue to oppose as chair. 

Williams has also alleged that Paduchik has committed “numerous ORP bylaws violations, designed to thwart the governing authority of the elected State Central and Executive Committee.” He has echoed criticisms made by a number of party members regarding the way Paduchik and Treasurer David Johnson have managed party finances. A lawsuit filed by some of those members alleges that $3 million has “gone missing” from ORP finance records. 

“I’m on three of the finance committees as vice chairman and I don’t have any clue or access to any records of the ORP,” Williams said. “Questions that are asked can’t be answered intelligently and that’s troublesome. I’m an officer with fiduciary responsibilities.”

He promised to ensure greater transparency in the spending of committee funds. He added he would push for rewriting the bylaws for greater clarity and would oversee the organization in manner that recognizes the authority and values the input of its members.

“We don’t win as individuals; we win as a team.”

Paduchik did not return an email seeking comment. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Bryan Williams” by University of Akron. Background Photo “Ohio Capitol” by Sixflashphoto. CC BY-SA 4.0.


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