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Ohio Republicans Oust Dewine, Elect Bennett
The longest-serving chairman in the history of the Ohio Republican Party was unanimously elected Friday to return to the helm amid an intraparty feud.
Bob Bennett is returning to the position to replace state GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine, who said he wanted to avoid a “party-splitting dispute” and stepped down.
Allies of Republican Gov. John Kasich had recruited a slate of challengers to the committee that they believed would vote out DeWine. Their effort reflects Kasich’s interest in controlling the party as governor. He was elected in 2010 and is serving a four-year term.
Chairman since 2009, DeWine was unanimously elected by the state central committee to a second term in 2011. He oversaw the GOP’s resurgence in the state in the 2010 elections, when Republicans swept Democrats out of four statewide offices – including the governor’s – and grabbed control of the Legislature.
DeWine and other Republicans, including Bennett, had expressed concerns that the infighting could jeopardize the party’s efforts to deliver the swing state this fall to the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama.
No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio.
DeWine will remain on the state central committee and plans to continue raising money for the GOP as a member of the national party’s finance committee.
Bennett chaired the party from 1988 to 2009, and he says he’s not looking for another long chairmanship.
Bennett has said he intends to stay in the leadership post through the fall election and run for again for the position in January. He said he would plan to prepare for the 2014 midterm elections, while the party works to identify a permanent chairman.