COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday threw his support behind his former Ohio campaign chairman as the next chairman of the state Republican Party days before the party is scheduled to vote to pick a new leader.
In a statement, Trump said Bob Paduchik has his “full and complete endorsement” to replace Jane Timken, who resigned as chairman of the Ohio Republican Party earlier this month to focus on her run for the U.S. Senate. Paduchik, a longtime Ohio political operative with close ties to the numerous elected officials, ran Trump’s successful state campaigns in 2016 and 2020. He also held the number-two position at the Republican National Committee during the Trump era, leaving at the end of 2018 to take a position with the Trump campaign.
“Bob loves our country and the Great State of Ohio,” Trump said in the statement released by Save America, the former president’s official political action committee. “He will be an outstanding Chairman!”
The move almost certainly clinches the job for Paduchik, who had been considered the favorite anyway. Paduchik also has the quiet support of Gov. Mike DeWine, a political tightrope given the tension between him and the former president. It also is a sign that Trump plans to continue taking a hands-on role with the Republican Party during his post-White House life.
The state GOP’s central committee is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting on Friday to officially select a chairman. The only other declared candidate is John Becker, an arch-conservative former state lawmaker from the Cincinnati area who left office due to term limits at the end of 2020.
Becker said in an interview he still plans to run, although he considers it unlikely he will win. He said he’d expected the party establishment to ignore his candidacy, and was impressed that Paduchik’s allies pulled Trump into the contest.
Becker said he’s trying to represent the Trump supporters that make up the the GOP’s grassroots base.
“People like to have choices. Having one name on the ballot means there isn’t one,” Becker said. “This forces Paduchik to work for it. He was working before, but maybe this makes him sweat more than I anticipated. And now that they’ve brought Trump to the table, maybe that says they really fear me.”