Tea Party wing no longer leading Warren County GOP

Elections board chairman voted Republican party leader.

Warren County Republicans have elected new leadership, ending a two-year stint with Tea Party leaders in top party positions.

Jeff Monroe, chairman of the county elections board, was unopposed in his election Thursday to chairman of the party’s executive committee.

Linda Burke, like Monroe associated with the party’s old guard, was picked over Chris Koch, the Tea Party candidate seeking re-election as chairman of the central committee.

The vote ended weeks of accusations and maneuvering as different groups worked to form a coalition securing the leadership positions.

Monroe replaces Ray Warrick, who declined to run for re-election.

“The vast majority of the party stood together last night,” Monroe, a party official since 2005, said Friday. “The party is actually really unified. It’s more unified now than it has been since I’ve been involved.”

But Tea Party officials were less optimistic about party unification.

Warrick said the level of cooperation between old guard, elected officials, Conservative Caucus-Right to Life and Tea Party factions would depend on Monroe’s management of the party.

“Time will tell. It depends on how he runs the party,” said Warrick.

Warrick said the degree of cooperation from Tea Partiers in the upcoming presidential election would depend on “who it is and how they are selected.”

He was referring to questions about whether Donald Trump would be nominated at the GOP presidential convention in Cleveland.

Another Tea Party leader criticized County Recorder Linda Oda, who was elected secretary of the executive committee; Conservative Caucus leader Lori Viars, who was elected as treasurer of the central committee; and County Treasurer Matt Nolan.

Nolan, Viars and Oda were instrumental in the party reorganization effort designed to unify the local GOP to help elect Republicans in the upcoming presidential election.

But Kelly Kohls, president of the Warren County Tea Party, accused them of “taking over the party prior to a democratic vote” in an email sent out before Thursday’s vote.

On Friday, Kohls said this left her skeptical about how well the factions would cooperate in coming months.

Monroe said the party’s factions made it stronger.

“They are all part of what we are,” he said.

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