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Government and Politics

NE Ohio Tea Party leader takes on the GOP for the ultimate political insider's job
Portage CountyTea Partier is running to replace Bob Bennett as chairman of the Ohio GOP

Karen Kasler
In The Region:

In a controversial move a year ago, the Ohio Republican Party brought Bob Bennett out of retirement to serve as chairman.
Bennett guided the party through the presidential election, is ready to retire again and is endorsing Matt Borges as his successor. But a conservative Portage County leader is challenging that selection. Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler reports.

Hear Kasler on Tea Party leader announcing chairman candidacy

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Tom Zawistowski heads the Portage County Tea Party and was one of more than 80 conservatives who signed a letter protesting what they called the direction the Ohio Republican Party on abortion and same sex marriage. They're also challenging the likely decision to replace Bob Bennett with Matt Borges, who they say pleaded guilty to an ethics misdemeanor and once lobbied for the gay rights group Equality Ohio.

Zawistowski has now declared his candidacy to be chairman of the GOP. The vote among party insiders is coming later this month.

In an interview last week with Ohio Public Radio and TV, Zawistowski said party leaders should have met with those who opposed the Borges' selection.

“If you don’t bring them together with those people and you just appoint him, aren’t you just telling those people you really don’t care what they think and you’re just going to do what you want to do?” Zawistowski said. “That’s just bad governance, that’s bad administration. It’s bad for the party.”

Borges has said his record was expunged, and he has the support of all elected Republicans, including Gov. John Kasich.

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