Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Rob Scott announced his resignation Monday, a move that reflects an ongoing division in the party.
Scott, who serves on the Kettering City Council and is only 17 months into his four-year term as party chairman, said he encountered resistance from old guard party members over efforts to bring in fresh grassroots candidates from the business community and re-brand the local party with a greater sense of inclusiveness.
“The division is a disagreement of direction,” he said in his resignation letter. “Our team believes the party’s future rests in you, the grassroots. Others believe it rests in money and looking to the past.”
He added: “I want to move us away from the country club mentality and away from the stigma that you have to rich to be a Republican,” he said.
Internal debates boiled over and Scott said his resignation was the best solution. The 31-year-old attorney, swept to prominence as the founder of the Dayton Tea Party, said it’s now up to a reconstituted party central committee to pull factions together and resolve disagreements. Scott said his resignation will be effective Oct. 14.
It’s expected that former party chairman Patrick Flanagan, 75, also an attorney, could return to the job he held until the mid-1980s. But Scott said it’s going to be a tougher job than before. Flanagan didn’t return a call for comment.
“Politics has changed and so has Montgomery County,” Scott said Monday in a statement to reporters. “The future of the party is not the few in smoked-filled rooms making decisions of the party. The future of our party is grassroots with personal appeal that can change hearts and minds in Montgomery County. The party will not move forward until those with obsolete party methods and campaign tactics accept reality.”
Scott said the party needs to pull more new candidates from the business community. “Our number one problem in this county is jobs,” he said. “If we don’t elect more people who know how to run a business or meet a payroll, how can we create jobs?”
But Don Phillips, co-owner of Mandalay Banquet Center and one of the leaders of the effort to remove Scott, said business people were unhappy with Scott. Phillips said he is working to line up a replacement.
“I want a chairperson that can delegate their time to spend 30 to 40 hours a week to rebuild the party, perhaps a retired business person,” he said. “A person very concerned about the communty and jobs. Qualifications will be stronger and dearer than ever before.”
Scott credited his tenure with cleaning up party finances and resolving fiscal issues included in a state auditor finding. Scott added: “We have no debt to speak of. I ran the party on a shoestring.”
He also credited his leadership and supporters for making Montgomery County in 2012 “the only urban county in Ohio to actually decrease the margin between Republicans and Democrats.”
Scott arrived at the chairmanship after working behind the scenes in 2012 to bring supporters onto the central committee and take over leadership from former chairman Greg Gantt, who decided to not seek re-election after five years at the helm. The central committee, which Sheriff Phil Plummer chairs, selected Scott. Plummer, however, was also involved in the group that sought Scott’s departure. He didn’t return a call for comment.
For the immediate future, Scott said he planned to take a short rest but will continue to attend Central Committee meetings as a precinct captain. “I want to take a bit of a break. I’ve been 100 percent in politics the past 10 years,” he said.
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