The chairman of the Ashtabula County Republican Party has called on frontrunner Matt Borges to drop out of the race for chairman of the state Republican Party.
"Many have said that the cast has been set," wrote Charlie Frye to fellow Republicans. "Endorsements have come in from many elected officials already and some are looking past this very important vote on Friday. The State Chairman is the leader of our party. He is my leader. I want someone I can respect and trust. Most importantly, the Chairman must embody what we stand for."
Borges, the current executive director of the state GOP, heads into Friday's vote with the endorsement of Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Rob Portman and other leading Republican elected officials.
However, two key supporters of Borges - Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine and secretary of state Jon Husted - said he owes his supporters an explanation about his ongoing tax problems.
Borges' attorney said Monday his client owes $168,161 in federal taxes and $4,198 to the state.
Borges told 10TV he's resolving the tax problem.
"There was a story that was out about an issue I had with the sale of a home several years ago," said Borges. "That issue has actually been resolved with the IRS. I'm working to make sure that all of my issues are taken care of."
That explanation isn't good enough for Frye, who has recommended another candidate to the 66-member Republican committee.
"I have a solution to our current problem," said Frye. "I have spoken with Dale Fellows, the Lake County Chairman, and he said that he would run for State Chairman, if Matt pulls out of the running. Dale has been a loyal Republican and active in the party for over three decades, including being the former State Chairman of the Young Republicans and a State Central Committee member for over 20 years. He is respected by many and can unite all the branches of our party. We need unity, not division as we move into 2014."
Borges dismisses the Republican infighting as a healthy part of the process.
"There should be disagreements," said Borges. "We are a Party that has a diversity of ideas."
With state Republicans divided on everything from Medicaid expansion to same-sex marriage to JobsOhio, the tea party is making a serious attempt at wrestling control of the state Republican Party.
"We have a situation where 66 people are going to decide who can bring in the social conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, the grassroot tea party's and get them on the same team to work with us," said Portage County tea party leader and candidate for state chairman Tom Zawistowski. "I can tell you for a fact they're not going to do that under Matt Borges because they've already said that."
"Absolutely not true," responded Borges. "Tom is making his case to our 66 member committee. We meet Friday and that committee will make the decision on who leads this Party forward."
Borges said he will continue to campaign as the Friday vote nears.
"You never go into one of these elections taking anything for granted," said Borges. "I'm going to make my case to the central committee and they ultimately will decide who they want to lead this Party moving forward."
Zawistowski is banking on dissatisfaction within the state Party organization, pointing to a letter last month signed by over 80 tea party and conservative groups which criticized Borges, Kasich and Portman.
"You have these two groups, the social conservatives and the fiscal conservatives, both are unhappy with the Republican Party and this is a big problem," said Zawistowski. "It's really simple. They have a serious decision to make."
Watch 10TV and refresh 10TV.com for the latest news.