Trump campaign denounces Ohio GOP chair, deepens party rift

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listen during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listen during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

KANSAS CITY, MO (AP) – With Election Day weeks away, Donald Trump’s campaign has denounced the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, deepening a rift in a state critical to Trump’s White House hopes.

GOP Chairman Matt Borges has been organizing the state party’s resources behind Trump’s bid and offering advice to the nominee. But Borges also is an ally of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of Trump’s primary rivals. Kasich has been critical of Trump and recently told Ohio reporters he may not vote for him in the race against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s Ohio chairman, Bob Paduchik, says Trump is not happy.

FILE – In this Feb. 11, 2016, file photo, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges participates in a question-and-answer session in Columbus, Ohio. Donald Trump’s campaign has denounced Borges, deepening the party rift in the critical battleground state just weeks before Election Day. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins, File)
FILE – In this Feb. 11, 2016, file photo, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges participates in a question-and-answer session in Columbus, Ohio. Donald Trump’s campaign has denounced Borges, deepening the party rift in the critical battleground state just weeks before Election Day. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins, File)

“Chairman Borges has routinely exaggerated his relationship with the candidate and the campaign,” Paduchik wrote Saturday in a letter to state party committee members. “Chairman Borges does not represent or speak for the candidate and he no longer has any affiliation with the Trump-Pence campaign.” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is Trump’s running mate.

Paduchik wrote he expects the Ohio Republican Party to continue paying the Trump campaign’s Ohio payroll and expenses. Paduchik said he spoke to Trump on Thursday.

“He is very disappointed in Matt’s duplicity,” Paduchik wrote.

PDF: Letter from Robert Paduchik on Matt Borges 

But in his own email to committee members, Borges said he and the party remain committed to aiding Trump. Borges said the majority of Trump campaign staffers are and will remain on the Ohio Republican Party’s payroll. He also noted the party has helped Trump reach out to women’s and African-American organizations in Ohio, is chasing absentee ballots with voter cards promoting the Republican ticket and is organizing get-out-the-vote efforts.

“I speak and meet with Bob Paduchik and Trump team members regularly,” Borges wrote. “Interestingly, none of Bob’s concerns were voiced until he shared them publicly today.”

Borges said the “bruised ego of a staffer” won’t get in the way of his duties as party chairman.

With its 18 electoral votes, Ohio is crucial to winning the presidency as Trump sees his prospects diminish in other closely contested states such as Virginia.

The tension between the Trump campaign and the state party, full of Kasich loyalists, isn’t new. In a March 2 interview, Borges told NBC4 that Donald Trump “doesn’t represent our vaules, he doesn’t represent our country and he doesn’t represent our party.” The committee

Yet Trump has relied heavily on the state party for campaign operations. Angering party officials could damage the campaign as the Nov. 8 vote nears.

Paduchik also accused Borges of being more focused on becoming the next chairman of the Republican National Committee than on helping Trump. Borges has been mentioned as a possible RNC successor to Reince Preibus, a Trump ally.

Borges’ email to committee members did not address those allegations.

The tipping point for Trump’s campaign appears, in part, to be Borges’ decision let a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter watch the most recent presidential debate with Borges and his wife. The couple told the reporter they were conflicted about what to do on Election Day.

“I’ve got to think about what I want to remember having done … 10 years from now,” Borges was quoted as saying.

Paduchik included the article and several others in the email he sent out to state committee members.

Jim Simon, a state party committee member, said that in a challenging election season, Borges has “handled it perfectly. Drawing fire away from our candidates and officeholders is the chairman’s job, which is something I’m sure Bob doesn’t understand,” he said in a statement.

The full statement Matt Borges sent to members of the committee can be read below:

Committee Members:

By now you’ve surely seen the letter being circulated by the Ohio Trump organization.  You should know exactly what the Ohio Republican Party has done, is doing, and will continue to do to support the efforts of the Trump campaign.  Here are just ten examples:

  1. In early May, Donald Trump called me, as he continues to do regularly, and asked me to help him get organized in the state.
  2. I worked with Jim Murphy, Trump’s National Political Director, to identify an Ohio State Director.  He suggested Bob Paduchik, with whom he’d had a previous business relationship and gave me full veto power.  I enthusiastically recommended that he hire Bob.
  3. The majority of their staff members are on our payroll and we handle all of their HR matters so they can remain focused on their primary mission.
  4. We offered to endorse Donald Trump at our September State Central Committee meeting where we appointed Trump’s recommended presidential electors.  The endorsement would have been nearly unanimous.  The Trump campaign declined our offer to endorse.
  5. The Ohio Republican Party has assisted in their coalition building.  ORP’s Executive Director serves on the advisory committee for Women for Trump.  Even this evening we are partnering with RNC’s African American Advisory Council, Trump’s Mahoning County Chair, and the Ohio Black Republican Association to host a phone bank making calls to support our Republican ticket.
  6. We have been chasing their early and absentee voters with a slate card on which Mr. Trump and Governor Pence are prominently featured.
  7. Members of the Ohio Trump staff work in the Ohio Republican Party headquarters.
  8. We are working in total coordination in Election Day Operation preparation.  ORP staff and the Party’s outside legal counsel have been in lock step with the Trump organization in this undertaking.
  9. The Ohio Republican Party has sent GOTV and Early Vote mail and phone calls to bolster support for the top of the ticket.
  10. I speak and meet with Bob Paduchik and Trump team members regularly.  Interestingly, none of Bob’s concerns were voiced until he shared them publicly today.

Let me be clear, I am never going to allow the bruised ego of a staffer to get in the way of my duty as the Ohio Republican Party Chairman.

Please contact me if you have questions on this matter.

Matt

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