Borges chosen to lead Ohio GOP


Fending off last-minute questions about unpaid taxes and an insurgent Tea Party challenger, longtime Ohio political operative Matt Borges was easily elected Friday as chair of the Ohio Republican Party.

Borges received 48 votes from members of the state GOP’s central committee. Tom Zawistowski, a Tea Party activist from Portage County, received just seven votes.

Borges, 40, is the current executive director of the Ohio Republican Party and a close ally of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich. He will begin his two-year term on June 1, the day after current party chair Bob Bennett will step down

Borges said he will now focus on preparing for statewide elections in 2014 and the presidential election in 2016.

“We have a lot of work to do, and a lot of outreach to do,” Borges said.

Zawistowski gained few votes, but brought with him vocal and at times raucous supporters. During an impassioned speech to committee members, he criticized Kasich for supporting Medicaid expansion and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, for supporting gay marriage.

Afterward, Zawistowski said there is a “serious threat” that elements of the Tea Party may splinter off and form their own party.

Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Rob Scott, former president of the Dayton Tea Party, said he looks forward to working with Borges “in re-electing Governor Kasich, other state Republican leaders, as well as electing more Republicans in Montgomery County.”

In his own speech, Borges only indirectly referred to a six-figure bill for unpaid taxes first reported two weeks ago by our Columbus Bureau, news of which complicated his run for party chair. He declined to discuss the issue with reporters, but previously said he would before Friday either pay off or enter into a payment plan for his liens, which numbered at about $168,000 as of earlier this week.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Matt McGrath issued a statement Friday panning the GOP’s selection, calling Borges a “tax cheat and admitted influence peddler.”

Friday’s vote is the latest chapter in Borges’ political comeback story.

Borges, then chief-of-staff to Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters, pleaded guilty in 2004 to a misdemeanor ethics charge and was fined $1,000 for giving preferential treatment to certain brokers in the state treasurer’s office.

That charge, which Borges now maintains was the result of a political witch hunt, has since been expunged.

Most recently, Borges managed Kasich’s inaugural campaign and ran Auditor Dave Yost’s statewide campaign. He also worked for former Vice President Dick Cheney and helped with Republican presidential campaigns in Ohio in 2008 and 2012.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

State to target high-crash Ohio roads with 70 mph limits
State to target high-crash Ohio roads with 70 mph limits

The state will target high-crash Ohio roads that have 70 mph limits following a report that found a sharp increase in accidents after Ohio raised the limit from 65 mph. The analysis of those efforts could lead to a temporary reduction of the limit back to 65 mph in selected areas, according to the State Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation...
Springfield police $15M budget plan calls for more officers, cruisers
Springfield police $15M budget plan calls for more officers, cruisers

The Springfield Police Division will hire nearly two dozen officers in the coming year because of low staffing numbers. It should have about 130 officers, Capt. Lee Graf said, but currently has 112 on its roster. It will be able to hire more officers after voters approved an income tax increase this past spring, said Graf, who will take over as chief...
Springfield sewer rates to go up to pay for $250M upgrades
Springfield sewer rates to go up to pay for $250M upgrades

The city of Springfield residents may pay may for sewer services next year to pay for more than $80 million in federally mandated projects designed to cut down on raw sewage overflows into local waterways. Earlier this year, sewer rates increased 7 percent, bringing the total monthly utility bill for water, sewer and stormwater for a typical home in...
Clark County to spend $140K for consultant for combined 9-1-1 center
Clark County to spend $140K for consultant for combined 9-1-1 center

Clark County will spend $140,000 to hire a consultant to oversee the process of creating a unified countywide 9-1-1 dispatch center. Clark County commissioners voted unanimously this week to hire Fairfax, Va.-based Federal Engineering Inc. to help it transition from its current location at the Clark County Jail to the Springview Government Center....
Should Springfield ban smoking in cars with kids?
Should Springfield ban smoking in cars with kids?

A smoking ban in cars with children in Springfield could be problematic because it would only be in effect in the city limits, local leaders said, but they’re willing to talk about it. The city of Honolulu sparked a national debate on Oct. 18 when the city’s council voted unanimously to enact a ban on smoking and use of electronic cigarettes...
More Stories