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The Lucas County GOP's empty purse

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Newly elected Lucas County Republican Chairman Mark Wagoner, right, walks in front of former party chairman Jon Stainbrook before the party’s recent central committee reorganizational meeting.

THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
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If Lucas County Republicans had any regrets about whether they did the right thing in changing the party’s leadership recently, the fund-raising numbers should dispel them.

Mark Wagoner, an Ottawa Hills lawyer who formerly served in the Ohio General Assembly and who won the local party chairmanship last month, starts his two-year term as Lucas County Republican Chairman in a hole left by his predecessor, former Chairman Jon Stainbrook — a party bank account of $5.19, and debts and unpaid bills totaling $10,365.

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By comparison, at this same time in the 2014 gubernatorial election cycle, the party had more than $17,000 in its general fund accounts and a modest debt of $2,071.

Receipts indicate that Mr. Stainbrook spent the party’s money printing and sending campaign mailers to support his slate in the May 8 election.

Never has a chairman been as desperate to stay in power, and for no good reason, than was Mr. Wagoner’s predecessor, under whose leadership the local party failed to gain seats at the county level of government. It also actually lost a seat in Toledo City Council, thanks to the manipulative games played by the GOP chairman.

Mr. Stainbrook should have left the party’s accounts inviolable and allowed the voters to make their decision.

A party chairman is supposed to put the good of the party ahead of his own ambition. If a chairman becomes a lightning rod for criticism or is not getting the job done, he should be willing to step aside.

To his credit, Mr. Stainbrook did not throw up parliamentary obstacles to the changeover of power in June when it was obvious he had lost the majority of the central committee.

He also gave a unity speech at the reorganization convention. As a good former chairman, he needs to do more, and give the new chairman a chance to succeed and show only support for that chairman.

So far, we haven’t seen proof of that from Mr. Stainbrook.

Mr. Wagoner should also resist the temptation to flog Mr. Stainbrook for fund-raising purposes.

Mr. Stainbrook was successful at developing ranks of Republicans in city precincts that were not heard from when the suburban-based old guard was in power. Mr. Wagoner has already moved the headquarters from Toledo to Holland while he is also vowing to unify the party and try to keep the volunteers and central committee members who were loyal to Mr. Stainbrook.

Failure to do so will again doom the party to irrelevance in Lucas County, something harder to overcome than a wiped out campaign account.

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