NOTE: This is a submitted column from a candidate running for election. Its publication does not constitute the Dispatch Editorial Board's endorsement of the views expressed.
The Ohio Republican Party's 66-member state central committee should focus on engaging voters and growing the base, but instead it focuses inward.
No better example is found than when they rig Republican primaries in favor of insider, establishment candidates.
The method they employ is well-funded endorsements to prevent competition and buy outcomes in Republican primaries. It is wrong and should end now.
They demonstrated this at their Sept. 10 meeting.
Gov. Mike DeWine wanted the central committee to endorse him at the September meeting, which was 145 days before the filing deadline to even run.
DeWine failed. The central committee next meets at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 3 at the Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center.
I attended the September meeting — my first — because I’m furious over longstanding corruption in the party and its donor class.
I was stunned.
But what about disgraced former House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and über-donor Bill Lager, who never seems to be held accountable for $60 million pilfered in the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow scandal?
During that Sept.10 meeting, I saw the central committee ignore members, bury financial issues, shut out a qualified Black candidate and block primary competition.
At the start, a committee member sought to be recognized to add to the agenda.
Ohio Republican Party Chair Bob Paduchik ignored him.
Mark Bainbridge, the only certified public accountant on the central committee, gave voice to the financial impropriety issues. They include $2 million in equity missing, property tax delinquency and sketchy transfers.
Paduchik sought to bury those issues.
Later, there was an appointment considered to fill a vacant central committee seat for District 15, which is urban Franklin County.
There were two candidates: Penny Martin, a longtime insider, and Alicia Healy, a pro-Trump, Black woman challenging stereotypes and narratives.
Martin spoke of her political internships and loyalty to the “team.”
Healy talked of growing the base, engaging the Black community and going door-to-door for Trump.
Guess who was picked by a completely secret ballot with no vote totals announced.
The episode was troubling, not just because of the rejection of a dynamic and vibrant person of color, but because the nature of the secret ballot allowed for it to happen.
As the end of the meeting, there were primary endorsements for Ohio Supreme Court: Sharon Kennedy, Pat Fischer and Pat DeWine.
Why is the central committee endorsing almost five months before the filing deadline? In endorsing so early, the state central committee blocks primary challenges, especially of Pat DeWine.
A Supreme Court that was Republican-dominated is now teetering on a Democrat take over.
I think we need better, less conflicted, choices than Pat DeWine, not a rigged process to block a primary challenge.
I predict he’ll lose in the general election and hand the court to Democrats.
I am tired of it all.
True Republicans need stand up and take back our party.
Dublin resident Mark Pukita, a Republican, is a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Ohio. He is the founder of Fast Switch.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Is there 'corruption in the Ohio Republican Party? Republican candidate says yes.