Blystone Gubernatorial Campaign ‘Imploding Because Things Aren’t Being Done Right,’ Says Former Co-Campaign Manager; ‘Disrespectful’ Candidate, Disorganization Prompt Staff Departures

Joe Blystone


COLUMBUS, Ohio – The campaign of Joe Blystone seeking to wrest the GOP gubernatorial nomination from incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) has lost numerous county and regional leaders and a co-campaign manager since early July due to what those leaving describe as a disorganized campaign and a disrespectful candidate.

A list of former staffers provided to The Ohio Star included seven regional leaders overseeing a few to several counties and another nine county leaders.

“The core of his campaign staff have either been fired or quit,” writes Jeff Seibert, the former southwest Ohio regional leader, in an August 4 email to other staffers and ex-staffers announcing his resignation.

Later in the email, he writes, “Joe does not like to be questioned, he doesn’t like to hear anything unpleasant; only what he wants to here.”

Sarah Chambers, the former co-campaign manager, said she quit July 7 after seeing Blystone disrespect too many “good-hearted” volunteers. She added that the campaign also remains unorganized in terms of responsibilities.

“I think the campaign is imploding because things aren’t being done right,” Sarah Chambers of Westerville tells The Star. “People are continuing to fall off daily.”

She adds, “I saw too many people treated wrongly. There’s no integrity there.”

Chambers told of a Hardin County event where the campaign hoped to serve alcohol, but they didn’t have time to get the required liquor permit. Blystone overruled her suggestion, they postponed the event until a permit could get obtained.

“Yes, I just threw you under the bus,” Chambers said Blystone told her.

Former regional leader Setys Kelly said the boundaries of her multi-county territory kept changing, and the events she’d arrange would get canceled after getting approval from headquarters.

One event, she said, required a $500 refundable deposit, money the campaign decided not to provide despite the prospect of raising more than that from the event.

Kelly, an experienced event planner and sales rep, also noted she was asked to get engraved promotional items for sale at events and local offices, only then to be told afterward to cancel the orders.

“Cancelled events, second guessing of decisions,” Kelly said, “and nobody is in charge to give a final answer.”

“Growing pains”

But the campaign’s current top manager dismisses the staffing issues as “growing pains” of a fast-growing grassroots organization.

Bryan Robson, a Washington Courthouse small business owner who now serves as the Blystone campaign manager, dismisses the complaints and said all political campaigns experience turnover.

“The campaign has grown so quickly, we’re overwhelmed with growing pains,” said Robson, who took over in mid-July, claiming the campaign has volunteers statewide and 200,000 followers on social media.

Like any organization, not everyone has fit in well.

“We’ve had some people who didn’t get along with others,” he said. “We also have different competencies and some people didn’t have the competency.”

Robson also discounted complaints the work environment is unfriendly.

“There’s no insidious, underlying reason people have left,” he said.

That said, Robson said he notes some former staffers have already climbed onto other campaigns or have interviewed with them. He suspects some may have been “operatives” from other campaigns seeking to spy on the Blystone efforts.

While disappointed with the Blystone campaign experience, Seibert said in his email he hopes to join the U.S. Senate primary campaign of Mike Gibbons.

A spokeswoman for that campaign said it has yet to hire any former Blystone staff members.

A spokesman for the gubernatorial campaign of Jim Renacci, who is also a declared candidate for the GOP nomination, declined to say whether the campaign had picked up any Blystone volunteers, but in an email wrote it “has continued to build up significant grassroots support in the last few weeks.”

Former Blystone campaign regional leader Kelly said she plans to vote for Blystone unless a better alternative emerges.

“I’d still vote for Joe, because I don’t want to vote for Renacci,” Kelly said.

Former Blystone co-campaign manager Chambers said she has become disillusioned in her first efforts in getting deeply involved in a political campaign spurred by her opposition to the COVID-19 policies of Gov. DeWine and other issues. “I really wanted to do something to make a difference.”

She does not think Blystone can win the gubernatorial contest.”I don’t think it will become a viable campaign,” Chambers said.

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Brian Ball is a reporter for The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Send tips to [email protected]
Photo “Joe Blystone” by Joe Blystone. 








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5 Thoughts to “Blystone Gubernatorial Campaign ‘Imploding Because Things Aren’t Being Done Right,’ Says Former Co-Campaign Manager; ‘Disrespectful’ Candidate, Disorganization Prompt Staff Departures”

  1. Steve Walker

    All this infighting does NOTHING but ensures that RINO DeWine will be the nominee again. I knew just as soon as I heard that there was 2 challengers to that RINO that we were going to see this. We ONLY need 1 challenger to that RINO and dispatch him…The biggest Red Flag to me is WHY did Ms. Swallen drop out? We need to know this….

  2. John Persinger

    The line near the end frr the former staffer is exactly why DeWine probably wins the primary. It is his to lose. Staffer quits the campaign but says she will still vote for Bly even if he can’t win because she doesn’t want to vote for Renacci. So instead of voting for the man who might still be in position to beat DeWine, she will hand the win to DeWine. Foolish people with no clue how elections work.
    And Blystone’s current campaign manager is delusional. The campaign has lost some 7 senior leaders and has practically zero on hand money to fight DeWine, but he thinks the campaign is “exploding”? The word is imploding, not exploding.

    Blystone may be a good guy, but it is time to start considering consolidating power and pushing good staff and support to Renacci. DeWine is the enemy and conservatives need to do whatever it takes to get DeWine and Husted away form office.

  3. Keith

    Sounds like somebody had their feelings hurt. I met Blystone at an Orwell, Oh. event and walked away with confidence for him. My concern is the primary and how many votes Rennaci and Blystone will take from each other and allow Alfred E. DeWine a victory. The Ohio Republican Party doesn’t seem to support the relatively unknown Blystone and that’s concerning.

  4. David Gingerich

    In my previous comment I should’ve said, “their job is to protect and insure the freedom of the people that is given them by God.”

  5. David Gingerich

    Joe is awesome! I can’t even imagine all he’s going through trying to find his way through the whirlwind of an exploding grassroots campaign, and not even having previous political experience! He has to be one tough cookie! I don’t doubt that he’s made mistakes, (who of us wouldn’t!?) but the fact that he has no political aspirations, just a common citizen who is wanting to serve his state because of his love and concern, is extremely appealing. I’d a thousand times rather have a solid but not as knowledgeable person get in office, than the slimy, experienced, oily tongued career politician fakers who think the people exist to provide them with a prestigious position! Their job is to provide the people with freedom, and Joe knows that!! GO JOE!!!