Incumbent Delaware County commissioner Ken O'Brien, who was reelected in 2012 with a term ending in 2017, is now running for the identical office prompting his own political party chairman to demand he drop out of the race. O'Brien has responded by saying he will not withdraw.
"Most voters I speak with are quite surprised to find that you are and will remain a County Commissioner through January 3, 2017 whether or not they vote for you in the May Primary," wrote Delaware County Republican Party chairman Robert Mann. "They are quite confused as to why someone would run for an office they already hold, and will continue to hold, for nearly another three years."
Mann says that if O'Brien wins Stapleton's seat - and resigns the seat he already holds - then the GOP central committee, not Delaware County voters, will pick his replacement.
O'Brien was sworn into office in January, 2013 for a four year term ending in January, 2017. Commissioner Dennis Stapleton, whose term expires this year, announced he was not seeking reelection in January.
O'Brien is seeking Stapleton's seat in the upcoming May primary election.
"I believe that your candidacy creates substantial confusion and erodes public confidence in our electoral system," wrote Mann in a letter obtained by 10TV. "I am therefore requesting that you immediately withdraw your candidacy for...an office you already hold."
In his response obtained by 10TV, O'Brien accuses Mann of backing another candidate and not representing all Delaware County Republicans.
"With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, you do not have the right to interfere with the electoral process by requesting that I withdraw simply because you prefer one candidate over another," wrote O'Brien. "While I appreciate your efforts to support one of my opponents in this race, I must respectfully decline your request to withdraw from the race."
Two other Republicans are in the race: Barb Lewis, a Genoa Township trustee, and Mike Kelley, a business owner in the village of Ostrander.
O'Brien says he doesn't trust either of his opponents to take the county in the right direction.
"While I support development, I do not support development for development's sake, particularly when taxpayer dollars are at issue," wrote O'Brien. "By giving away taxpayer resources, Delaware County will have less resources to support countywide services, including, for example, EMS."
Sources say the Delaware County GOP Screening Committee has not endorsed any of the candidates.
Also on the primary ballot next month are candidates for the Delaware County Republican Central Committee.
If O'Brien wins the Stapleton seat next month a majority of the approximately 140 members would chose his replacement.