Perspective: GOP Chairman battle is strange, strained 'family feud'

1:14 PM, Apr 18, 2013   |    comments
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PERSPECTIVE -- Ohio Republicans will elect a new face and voice to represent them next week.

Until a few weeks ago, the party's Executive Director Matt Borges was cruising unopposed to a slam-dunk certain election. Sixty-six GOP VIP's will vote next week.

All of Ohio's elected GOP officeholders from the Governor on down signed on to support Borges.

Borges is already running the party's day-to-day operations.

He would succeed outgoing Chairman Bob Bennett, who returned to the job temporarily after Governor John Kasich and others squeezed Chairman Kevin DeWine out.

But what once seemed a perfunctory formality has turned into an unseemly family feud.

A noisy challenger is claiming officeholding and establishment Republicans have turned their backs on true social and fiscal conservatives.

Kent Businessman and Geauga County Tea Party Leader Tom Zawistowski has mounted a campaign against Borges.

He's led a group sending  the Governor and Republican leaders angry letters, charging conservatives feel ignored and disenfranchised.

And they are upset.

They don't like the Governor's bid to expand Medicaid or Sen. Rob Portman's new-found support for gay marriage after discovering his son is a homosexual.

In a second letter, there are threats to form a possible "third party."

And parts of Borges' resume are getting lots of media attention.

There are entries you might not expect from someone hoping to be the state's number one Republican.

He's been a lobbyist for a gay rights group.

He owes both Uncle Sam and the State of Ohio significant back taxes.

He has a misdemeanor corruption conviction for using his political influence to steer official business to brokers in exchange for campaign donations to a former boss.

Those brokers include the locally infamous convicted con man/stockbroker Frank Gruttadauria.

What will the Democrats say about that if/when Borges wins?

Republicans are already trying to smear soon-to-be official Governor Candidate Ed FitzGerald with mud from Jimmy Dimora's cesspool.

Zawistowski claims he has never met Borges.

That's a curious disconnect between significant players in the same party who both worked on Romney/Republican campaigns in 2012.

They will certainly meet at next week's vote.

And the betting is, Borges will leave as chairman-to-be. And Zawistowski and his supporters will leave, still feeling like they are on the outside looking in a party that is deeply split.

WKYC-TV

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