The Ohio Republican Party has a new leader. Matt Borges, the man who has headed the party since 2013, has been replaced with a woman, Stark County Attorney Jane Timken.
New Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken says she’s excited about her new job.
“I think it’s important to have a female in this leadership position. I think it’s a historic moment. But I think that I’m the person who is going to take this party to a new level and have great success.”
It’s not exactly like former Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges didn’t have success of his own.
“When you think about the statewide sweep in 2014, bring a national convention to Ohio for the first time in 80 years, hosting the first Republican debate, then a statewide sweep again in 2016, I don’t know how I could put any more of my heart and soul into succeeding.”
Timken won by only one vote. Many who voted for her say they think Borges brought many successes to the party. But for Bob Murphy of the Cleveland area, one of the central committee members who voted for Timken, the issue was loyalty. Ohio Governor John Kasich has been a strong backer of Borges while President Elect Donald Trump wanted Timken.
“He has a big job to do in this country to get this country straightened out and if Ohio doesn’t get in line or get on the Trump train then in the long run, we are going to pay. And it’s going to hurt President Trump because then the Democrats will play that.”
In the hours leading up to the vote, both Kasich and Trump talked to committee members to try to get them to support their respective candidates. Sue Rodman of the Cleveland area says she got one of those calls from Trump.
“He asked me what I thought of his appointees. And we shared that. And then he did tell me that he was supporting Jane Timken. But we had a conversation like he was across the street. He’s a wonderful, wonderful person.”
But Borges had his share of support too. Republican State Auditor Dave Yost urged Central Committee members to take the pragmatic approach.
“Yes, the risk of change can be a necessary one if the organization is failing in its work but that is not the case at the ORP. We are winning elections in an epic level with Matt’s leadership.”
The decision brought out a lot of drama. Two votes were taken, both with the same result. Timken got 33 votes. Borges got 32. One member was not present and was not able to vote. A long recess was taken to decide what to do next. In the end, the Ohio Republican Party created a role for Borges. He’ll be the first Chair Emeritus.
“I don’t think I’m out. I think I’m here. I think I’m helping and I’m going to be part of a continued success of the Republican party in this state.”
When asked about his new role with the party and what it would entail, Borges said details are still being worked out on that. Timken didn’t elaborate either.
Timken “I think those are some of the details and we will see how that role plays out and there’s nothing final I can give you right now on that.”
Ingles “Was there anything you talked about, any of his skills that you talked about that you would like him to bring in an advisory capacity or something like that?”
Timken “Matt and I had some private conversations and I’m going to keep them private.”
The battle for leadership of the Ohio Republican Party has been intensified in recent months. Borges was heavily criticized by some Republicans for his tepid support of Trump and his overwhelming support of Kasich. But Kasich is a big reason Borges was in that role in the first place. Back in 2010, after former ORP Chair Kevin DeWine ushered in a complete sweep of Republicans in state government, he was ousted. Borges eventually took over. Now as his role in the party is minimized while the Ohio GOP forges ahead into the uncharted territory of the 2018 U.S. Senate race, as well as key Ohio legislature races, leaves the question of whether Timken can make Ohio red again.