September 18, 2014

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Tea party leader to seek chairmanship of Ohio GOP

COLUMBUS — A leading figure in a conservative backlash against the Ohio Republican Party says he’s running for chairman.

Tom Zawistowski, a businessman, tea party and liberty group leader from Portage County, announced his bid today to succeed Chairman Bob Bennett.

Zawistowski was in a group of about 80 self-identified conservatives who wrote to state party leaders last month to raise objections to a series of their recent actions. Those included U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s policy shift in favor of same-sex marriage and Gov. John Kasich’s support for Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law.

A Kasich spokesman declined comment.

Zawistowski says he’s got the right skills to bring together conservatives and moderates.

Executive Director Matt Borges is Bennett’s favored successor, with support from all Ohio’s top Republican officials.