Ohio Republican Party (ORP) Chairman Bob Paduchik will hold onto his job until at least January, the party having decided on Friday at their meeting in the Columbus suburbs to refrain from voting on its officers until next year.
The question of whether the ORP could legitimately defer its executive-board elections until its January gathering has been a controversial one. This week, the national law firm Thompson Hine issued a legal opinion stating that, because the Ohio Revised Code requires the “members-elect” of both parties’ state committees to vote on their officers, those elections had to take place on September 9. The assessment reasoned that because those elected in August to serve on the committee would be sworn in at the autumn meeting, none would remain members-elect in January.
In the weeks before the meeting, state-party Vice Chairman Bryan Williams, who announced his bid to challenge Paduchik, proposed an agenda that included officer elections. At Friday’s meeting at the Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center in Lewis Center, some Williams supporters proposed that the committee adopt the vice chair’s suggested meeting schedule.
“I think that the committee should look deeply at what our obligations are by law and elect our officers based on what the Ohio Revised Code [says],” ORP State Central Committee (SCC) Shannon Burns told fellow members upon proposing the revised meeting agenda.
Paduchik, who some members believe sought to push elections back due to political expediency, argued that the party had to wait until winter for leadership elections because party bylaws state that the SCC must hold its officer elections in January of each odd-numbered year. He insisted that to hold a vote on Friday would require two-thirds of the committee to vote to suspend the rules.
“To make an agenda change like this is out of order unless you suspend the rules to call for an election outside the rules or bylaws,” Paduchik said in response to Burns.
Paduchik opponents contended that that provision contradicts not only Ohio state law but also another provision of the bylaws that leadership votes must occur “at the first meeting of the State Central Committee following the election and qualification of its members … .” Burns also countered that a vote to adopt a new agenda would only require the support of a majority of committee voters.
Most committee members ultimately decided against reorganizing the SCC’s executive board.
Williams was seeking the ORP chairmanship on a reformist platform that would entail revising the bylaws and doing away with committee endorsements in contested races — something at which many conservatives bristled when the SCC backed moderate Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in his reelection primary earlier this year.
Paduchik critics have also expressed concern about party finances as overseen by Paduchik and ORP Treasurer Dave Johnson. The chair and treasurer are defendants in a lawsuit alleging that $3 million has “gone missing” from ORP accounting documents.
After the meeting, Williams told The Ohio Star that he may or may not seek either election to the party chairman ship or reelection as vice chairman. He said he was encouraged by some of what Paduchik has indicated he intends to do regarding ORP governance in the months ahead. Those include convening a party-platform committee — a major conservative priority — and an effort to improve ORP bylaws.
“I think Bob Paduchik has heard, listened and expressed support for things that were very important to the committee,” Williams said, adding that he hopes that increased financial transparency also is a major focus for the chair and party subcommittees as the organization heads into next year.
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