TIFFIN, OH (TiffinOhio.net News) — Following a week of unflattering news reports about operatives working on behalf of his campaign, the Seneca County Republican Party unanimously endorsed State Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin)’s bid for Ohio Senate on Monday.
According to a source, several Republican committee members at Monday evening’s meeting were “confused” as to why they were being asked by leadership to make an endorsement.
“It’s unusual for us to make an endorsement in a primary, especially this early,” one committee member said. Despite confusion, leadership was able to rally everyone to unanimously vote in favor of endorsing Reineke.
Reineke, who is term-limited and cannot run for his House seat again, is running to represent the 26th district in the Ohio Senate. The district includes Seneca, Sandusky, Morrow, Crawford, Wyandot, Union, and Marion counties.
The 26th district Ohio Senate seat is currently held by term-limited Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville).
Reineke is facing off against another Republican in what is being called the “most brutal” primary fight in Ohio legislative history. Melissa Ackison is a small business owner and conservative activist from Marysville.
Last week, the Seneca County Republican Party issued a statement criticizing Ackison after she accused an ex-county commissioner and supporter of Bill Reineke of verbally attacking her at the Seneca County Fair.
Later that day, Ackison went to the Union County Fair, where she ran into controversial Fremont pastor Gary Click. A viral video shows the tense exchange between the two, including Pastor Click calling Ackison “trash,” a “phony,” and a “liar.”
Ackison has received support from around the state after the events were made known to the public.
“The recent erratic and bizarre behavior and unfounded allegations levied against a Republican volunteer by state senate candidate Melissa Ackison are untruthful, and unnecessarily divisive. They do not represent what others observed during the alleged exchange with Ackison,” Vanessa Treft, the Women’s Chair of the Seneca County Republican Party, stated.
“While we do not know Mrs. Ackison’s motivations for making such claims or why she has chosen this course of action, a clear pattern of reckless behavior has been displayed,” Treft said.
Treft also added that “All Republicans while manning the fair booth are expected to follow the Reagan rule and speak no ill of other Republicans. I can assure you as the Women’s Chair that there are no vast right-wing conspiracies in place to marginalize or tank Ackison’s campaign due to her sex, gender, height, skin color or age.”
“The Seneca County Women’s Chair Vanessa Treft wishes all of its candidates the best of luck in the primary. However, she always hopes that candidates are vigilant to conduct their campaigns with integrity and honesty so as to not tarnish the Republican brand so many volunteers have helped to shape in our county and across the state,” the press release concluded.
Treft is also involved in a statewide super PAC known as Ohio Strong Action, started by former U.S. Senate candidate Mike Gibbons. Gibbons was an opponent of Ms. Ackison in the 2018 GOP primary for U.S. Senate.
In response to the press release from Treft, Ackison responded: “Oh you mean Mike Gibbons’ PAC director who has hated me since destroying her candidate on stage and in every room we were in together?”
“On May 22, 2019, Ms. Treft left a voicemail discussing Bill Reineke’s campaign tactics to exploit the anti wind community by suddenly caring about the windmills in an effort to appease the anti-wind voter base with campaign tactics. She went further to provide documentation and damning information against Bill where he had continuously flip-flopped on the issue,” Ackison said.
“While I appreciate the apologies that came from former commissioner Mike Bridinger to both my children and myself that day, I found it inexcusable to have that type of dialogue in the presence of patrons and my children in a Republican fair booth,” Ackison said.
“As far as Mrs. Treft’s response, I find it concerning that she has suddenly taken a tone that there is no effort to sway the primary in favor of my opponent after she publicly threatened to step down from her role in the Central committee after (according to Treft), Republican leadership and members of the central Committee attempted to disallow me from speaking or advertising my candidacy through party resources,” Ackison continued.
“This scene played out in the presence of the entire Republican Central committee. Vanessa was visibly upset during the May central Committee meeting tendering her resignation based on the political games occurring. She went further to contact me over the phone later that evening where my husband and I consoled her because she was incredibly frustrated citing ‘I take my job very seriously. I’m sick and tired of them not giving equal access to all candidates’,” Ackison said.
“I am utterly confused as to why the sudden shift and Mrs. Treft’s commentary and now her complete denial that an inappropriate incident took place in the Seneca County fair booth with a member of the board of elections and ex-commissioner,” Ackison concluded.