Almost Breaking … Really Close to Breaking … Kevin DeWine Will Resign on April 13 (Bennett to Replace … But PD Says Bennett Hasn’t Decided)
… Someone involved in the “Brief Brown County Encounter” described here is apparently on the verge of not getting his way tonight.
Not quite ready to say who.
Breaking, 8:50 p.m.: Just received an email from 3BP’s Bytor telling me that “I have 2 excellent sources who have both confirmed” that Kevin DeWine is either resigning shortly, or has done so already. Will update when more info is known.
Ohio GOP chief DeWine to resign to end battle with Kasich
Former party Chairman Bennett to lead at least on interim basis
Under unrelenting pressure from Gov. John Kasich and his political aides, Kevin DeWine will announce his resignation tonight as chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.
DeWine, 44, has prepared a letter to the 66 members of the GOP state central committee, saying he will step down when the party’s governing body meets to reorganize on April 13.
Party chairman since January 2009, DeWine has been under siege from Kasich to step aside, causing a bitter fight for control of the central committee in the March 6 primary election and tearing apart the state party at a time when Republicans need to carry Ohio to defeat Democratic President Barack Obama in the November general election.
On March 18, DeWine said he would not seek a new two-year term in January, but Kasich, through his political operatives, insisted that DeWine step aside immediately. Kasich was preparing to overthrow DeWine at the April 13 meeting, but DeWine will remove that possibility, even as his allies contend that they have enough votes on the central committee to beat back the governor’s coup attempt.
Friends of DeWine said the chairman concluded that Kasich and his allies would make his life miserable until he left.
In his letter, obtained by The Dispatch to be emailed at 9 p.m., DeWine addresses the intraparty battle: “Now, factions within our party are aligned to fight over who is best to lead us forward. A meeting looms where that fight could erupt into a party-splitting dispute that no one will win and everyone will lament.
“I am honored by the large number of State Central Committee members who are willing, even eager, to fight to sustain my leadership. Yet I cannot in good conscience let that fight go forward. If I did, it would be putting my personal interests over the party’s best interests. And I care too much about our work to do that.”
Former Ohio GOP Chairman Robert T. Bennett, 73, is poised to come out of retirement to lead the party, at least on an interim basis. He is expected to take over at the April 13 meeting.
… DeWine, who will keep his position on the state central committee, will leave the state chairmanship with a record of never having lost a race — except, ironically, his own. In 2010, Republicans won all five statewide executive offices, both houses of the General Assembly, and 6-1 control of the Ohio Supreme Court.
“I’m proud of our collective triumphs, and the fact that together we have made our party stronger organizationally and electorally over the past three years than at nearly any time in history,” DeWine wrote in his letter.
Since he didn’t absolutely have to do what he did, and though it took far longer than it should have, I do want to congratulate Kevin DeWine for putting the party (and the state) first.
As to Bennett’s return (not a sure thing; see Update 2 below), let’s just say that there were many far worse alternatives, like this guy. Whew.
Friday the 13th will be the Ohio Republican Party’s lucky day.
UPDATE 2: At the Cleveland Plain Dealer, via Reginald Fields, Bennett’s return is not a sure thing —
… Former state GOP Chairman Bob Bennett potentially could replace DeWine on an interim basis through the Nov. 6 election. Bennett, however, said he has not yet decided if he is interested in returning to a post he held for many years before DeWine.
DeWine has been under pressure to leave his leadership post from the moment Kasich took office in January 2011. Last month he announced that he would be willing step down next year. But that wasn’t soon enough for Kasich and his aides, who demanded he leave now.
For nearly a year their squabbling largely was kept behind closed doors. In recent months it had become an embarrassing election-year public spat for Republicans who want to focus on political campaigns.
Kasich fielded a slate of candidates to run for the 66-member state Republican party central committee, which elects the party’s chairman. It is believed that enough Kasich-backed candidates were elected to call for a vote during the April 13 meeting and kick DeWine out of office.
DeWine decided to step down after days of negotiating with key party leaders. Kasich’s office offered a tempered response to a situation that had been growing more volatile by the day.
“It’s good to be able to put this behind and move forward,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said.
UPDATE 3, April 6: At Third Base Politics, which stayed on top of this saga as well or better than anyone in the establishment press —
(Bytor) Just like when Reince Priebus took over a damaged RNC from Michael Steele, we need to put our party back together. Bob Bennett as a temporary chair would be a good choice, given his long years of previous experience at the job.
I’m ecstatic that we are putting this behind us and can focus on beating Barack Obama and electing Josh Mandel this fall.
(Jason Hart) History may prove us wrong for siding with Governor Kasich, but the argument that DeWine is loved by all save a few angry rubes has completely dissolved.
… I commend Kevin DeWine’s decision to step down and end this ugly chapter of ORP history; now let’s get back to work.