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Donald Trump defeats John Kasich in fight for Ohio Republican Party leadership

Vice Chair of Stark Co. GOP Jane Timken wins after Chairman Matt Borges drops out of race.

In a stunning upset, Canton area attorney Jane Murphy Timken won a victory Friday over incumbent Matt Borges to capture the chairmanship of the Ohio Republican Party. 

Matt Borges ousted as Ohio GOP chairman

After two rounds of secret voting resulted in a deadlock, Timken emerged as the winner after a deal was struck in a backroom to make Timken chairman and name Borges chairman emeritus, which is a new post. 

President-elect Donald Trump backed Timken while Ohio Gov. John Kasich supported Borges for re-election.

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“We all love Matt. This isn’t about Matt. It’s about Donald Trump,” said Pat Flanagan, the longest-serving of the 66 members of the Ohio GOP State Central Committee, which picks the chairman. 

Borges is coming off a 2016 election in which Republicans won the White House, incumbent U.S. Sen. Rob Portman was re-elected, and the GOP picked up seats in the state Legislature. But his tepid support of Trump during the 2016 presidential race opened a rift within the party. 

Trump waded into the fray and issued a letter Jan. 4 to Timken that said in part: “Loyalty in politics is an important attribute and I will never forget what you did for me. Wishing you the best of luck in your campaign for state chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. It’s important to have strong leadership in our battleground states and I look forward to working with you as Chairman.” 

Trump also made personal calls to members of the central committee, other media outlets reported.

RELATED: Here’s the backstory on this fight

“If Trump believes the Ohio Republican Party is 100 percent behind him, he’ll do everything he can to get jobs in Ohio,” Flanagan said. “We love Gov. Kasich but to me we have to think about the future, not the past. Donald Trump is the future for four, and perhaps eight, more years.” 

Timken, who has served as vice chair of the Stark County GOP, is a member of a family that has long been a generous supporter of Republicans. 

The chairmanship of a state political party indirectly impacts Ohioans. The chair raises money and recruits candidates for local, state and federal posts, who then implement the party’s vision and ideology into government policy.

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