Summit County Republican Party chair endorses DeWine, Husted

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Summit County Republican Party Chairman Bryan Williams
Summit County Republican Party Chairman Bryan Williams

Summit County Republican Party Chair Bryan Williams has endorsed Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted in their reelection campaign.

The personal endorsement by Williams, who also serves as vice chair of the Ohio GOP, gives the DeWine campaign a key ally in territory that primary challenger Jim Renacci hopes to dominate.

Renacci, a former U.S. representative from Wadsworth who serves as GOP chair in neighboring Medina County, has positioned himself as the candidate best suited to carry forward the far-right agenda pursued by former President Donald Trump.

DeWine has sparked a backlash among Trump loyalists for his refusal to echo false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen as well as his policies enacted to combat the spread of COVID-19.

With similar, heated intraparty challenges emerging across Ohio for state and federal offices, county and statewide GOP officials have come under increasing pressure to avoid making traditional endorsements in the 2022 primary.

Summit Republicans endorsed DeWine in November 2017 for his successful 2018 bid — but the pandemic, the turbulent 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol have thrown Ohio politics into upheaval since then.

Williams successfully fought an attempt last year by Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose to remove him from the Summit County Board of Elections; his endorsement of DeWine puts to rest the questions of whether that feud had also cost the state's top officials Williams' support — and whether Williams would favor a gubernatorial candidate closely aligned with Trump, who won Ohio despite his 2020 election defeat.

The DeWine-Husted campaign this week listed Williams' endorsement among several from Northeast Ohio Republicans.

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“Governor Mike DeWine knows the unsecured southern border is fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging communities. That’s why Governor DeWine sent the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio State Highway Patrol to stop the cartels at the border, and he supports building the wall," Williams said, according to the campaign. "I have no doubt, given a second term, Mike DeWine will keep fighting to make Ohio families and communities safer.”

Williams was referencing DeWine in July 2021 sending 14 Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers to Texas for two weeks at the request of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. DeWine also sent about 115 soldiers from the Ohio National Guard's 1484th Transportation Company to the southern border and another 185 members of the Ohio Army National Guard to Texas later in 2021, both at the request of the federal Department of Homeland Security and National Guard Bureau.

Williams briefly served as acting chair of the Ohio Republican Party in February 2021 after Chair Jane Timken resigned ahead of announcing her intention to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rob Portman.

Williams, the vice chair of the party, was interim chairman until the party chose a permanent replacement. Williams said at the time that he wasn't interested in the permanent job but supported Bob Paduchik for the role. Paduchik was sworn in as chair at the end of February 2021.

Contact Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills at emills@thebeaconjournal.com and on Twitter @EmilyMills818.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Summit County Republican Party chair Bryan Williams endorses DeWine

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