COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Republican Party (ORP) will select its next leader Friday when the State Central Committee (SCC) members cast their votes for chairman.
SCC members will meet in person at the Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center or join the meeting virtually. The SCC currently has 65 members who are eligible to vote as opposed to their traditional roster of 66 – one seat is vacant. The Ohio GOP leader will be decided by a simple majority vote.
The special election is the only item on the agenda, according to one of the candidates, former State Representative John Becker. Whether a vote is cast in person or online, the SCC has committed to a secret ballot.
In-person votes and votes cast online will happen via electionbuddy.com, according to Becker.
The Cincinnati-area Republican announced his candidacy last Friday.“A lot of questions and interesting coincidences – Portman deciding not to run; [Jane] Timken stepping up to run, after resigning as party Chair,” said Becker. “A lot of people think it was pre-planned. Paduchik was already ordained as the next Chairman, which was a head-scratcher for me because I thought the SCC picked.”
Timken did accept her re-election results on January 15; Portman resigned on January 25. Then, Timken resigned on February 5, and soonafter she hired two key Portman political operatives. On February 13, she announced her bid for Senate.
Today, I am announcing my resignation as Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. I am confident that the work we have done over the last four years will leave our party in the best possible position to support Republican candidates up and down the ticket. https://t.co/04GSI5STlo
— Jane Timken (@JaneyMurph) February 5, 2021
“Rumors were that [former Ohio Treasurer and Secretary of State, Ken] Blackwell and others might throw a hat in the ring. Blackwell never stepped up. The more I thought about it, I thought ‘I’m a viable candidate.’ It’s like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play,” said Becker
The other candidate vying for the state party’s top spot unless others are nominated from the floor during the meeting is Bob Paduchik.
The Ohio Star attempted to contact Paduchik for an interview but he did not respond by press time.
Yesterday, Paduchik received former President Donald Trump’s endorsement for the role.
Bob Paduchik is running for Chair of the Republican Party of Ohio. He successfully led my campaign in both 2016 and 2020, having even more success the second time around. He is outstanding in every way, and I give him my full and complete endorsement. Bob loves our country and the Great State of Ohio. He will be an outstanding Chairman!
Becker said he supported then-candidate U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the 2016 Republican primary, then Donald Trump in the general election.
“I am a Trump Republican – it wasn’t until after he became president that he won me over. He did what he said he was going to do and did not back down from his agenda,” said Becker. “He is an anti-establishment guy. I like the way he pushed back on people. Eventually I became a true believer.”
Paduchik led George Bush’s Ohio campaign in 2000 and 2004. He was the state director for Trump’s 2016 campaign but took a lesser role of senior consultant in 2020. He is the former Republican National Committee Chairman 2017-2019.
“He has a great resume. I do too. We are just different people from different pasts – it comes down to grassroots versus the establishment. The committee [SCC] will make the decision between that contrast,” said candidate Becker.
Becker is a longtime Republican Party and Central Committee member, serving the Clermont County Republican Party since 1993 and the State Central Committee from 2004-2012. Most recently he represented Ohio House District 65 in the Statehouse between 2013-2020.
Becker said he represents grassroots Republicans.
“I started in politics with no name recognition and worked my way up,” he said.
Becker said if he wins, he will work to integrate grassroots supporters, drive smaller dollar contributions and embrace the biggest issue that disenfranchises the non-establishment GOP – ORP endorsements during primary elections.
“That’s part of why grassroots candidates and supporters hate the process because they think the process is rigged and they don’t have a chance. I think it’s important that the ORP stay out of the process and let local and statewide voters make the decisions for themselves,” said Becker.
Becker received a lot of press in 2020 when he was one of a handful of state lawmakers pushing to impeach Republican Governor Mike DeWine. He also led a movement that resulted in Ohioans filing Private Citizen Affidavits (PCAs) against the governor for alleged criminal offenses for his role in the State’s COVID response.
Becker went so far to publicly demand that Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) resign for his glib response to Becker’s calls for DeWine to be investigated – comments in which the AG portrayed the efforts as a drain on the state legal system.
Paduchik has received attention too – lately from the Energy and Policy Institute for his role in lobbying Ohio lawmakers to pass House Bill 6. The bill is the nuclear bailout law at the center of a federal bribery and racketeering investigation in which several parties have already pleaded guilty.
One Washington, D.C. insider – Paduchik runs a Beltway consulting firm – spoke with The Star on the condition of anonymity and said that Paduchik worked for DeWine in the 1990s.
According to the source, as much as the “Kasich machine has been dismantled,” – and the trademark bullying that accompanied the regime – Paduchik leading the ORP may be equally challenging for opponents.
He continued, “He [Paduchik] has a heavy hand” and will deal with opponents accordingly. If he wants to get something done, he’s going to find a way to get it done without you knowing until it’s already over. Against advice, during the Tea Party movement in 2009 he went scorched-earth and squashed them.”
“Do I have a snowball’s chance?” asked Becker, rhetorically. “I’ll believe in our state motto ‘with God all things are possible.’” He continued, “I didn’t think they’d fear me, I thought they’d ignore me. It may have been pre-wired but they’re obviously scared – I find that humorous and complimentary that they had to hunt down the President for an endorsement.”
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Jack Windsor is Statehouse Reporter at The Ohio Star. Windsor is also an independent investigative reporter. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Bob Paduchik” by Bob Paduchik.