Controversial pastor Gary Click (R-Vickery) is running for state representative, but many voters in the 88th Ohio House district, which includes all of Sandusky County and a majority of Seneca County, don’t know a whole lot about him yet.
Here’s what you need to know about the controversial candidate who will appear on the Republican primary ballot in March.
1. Click is one of the first local candidates with no private sector experience
Click is a former community theater actor and currently works as a pastor at Fremont Baptist Temple.
In addition to being a pastor, Click serves on the Republican State Central Committee, representing the 26th Senate district.
Compared to his opponents in the Republican primary race, Click’s lack of private sector experience is alarmingly obvious, and a potential reason why many Republican voters who list the economy as one of their top issues heading into March won’t back Click.
2. Click previously ran for public office unsuccessfully
Click ran for Sandusky County Commissioner in 2016, losing in a three-way Republican primary.
3. Click is currently the defendant in a lawsuit for defamation/slander
According to court documents obtained by TiffinOhio.net News, a team of attorneys representing Ohio Senate candidate Melissa Ackison (R-Marysville) have filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas for Sandusky County against Gary Click for defamation and slander.
The lawsuit claims Pastor Gary Click “ambushed” Ackison at the Republican Party booth at the Union County Fair in August. According to the lawsuit, Click stated to Ackison that she was “trash, that no one liked her, and she was a phony.” The incident was recorded and made statewide news, as noted in the lawsuit.
Since the Union County Fair incident in August, Gary Click has “repeatedly sought to disparage and/or harm [Ackison] and/or [Ackison’s] reputation by intentionally seeking out supporters of [Ackison], fellow Republicans, [Ackison’s] donors, and County Republican Central Committee members located in the 26th district,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that Click has also “sought to intentioally disparage and/or harm [Ackison] by meeting with organizations that offer endorsements to political candidates, such as Ohio Value Voters.” According to the lawsuit, Click has told various individuals and organizations that Ackison is “anti-Semitic and a Muslim sympathizer” and that Ackison and/or her husband are in “financial despair and have filed bankruptcy.”
In addition, the lawsuit states that Click has claimed Ackison is “a criminal and/or [Ackison] has a criminal record,” all of which are “false and untrue,” according to Ackison’s legal team.
Ackison’s legal team states in the lawsuit that she is “entitled to general and special damages in an amount exceeding $25,000.”
4. Bill Reineke and the chairwoman of the Seneca County GOP have previously spoken out against Click
Back when rumors were flying high about Click’s potential candidacy, Seneca County Republican Party chairwoman Vanessa Treft said in a voicemail that Click is only running for State Representative “for his own personal gain.”
“[Click] is only doing all this bullsh*t for his own personal gain, and I’m f*cking tired of it,” Treft said.
In addition, following statewide media reports of the video which showed Click berating Ackison, State Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) distanced himself from Click.
“Mr. Click was not asked to attend the fair on behalf of our campaign and does not represent the campaign,” the statement from Reineke’s office said.
5. Click has had several awkward moments on the campaign trail
“You know who I am right? What’s my name?” Click recently asked at Reino’s Catering & Party Room in Downtown Tiffin, which prompted a brief moment of silence before members of the small audience, mostly composed of members of Click’s Fremont Bible Baptist Temple congregation, replied with very little, if any, enthusiasm: “Gary Click…”
6. Click has repeatedly said he’s “not sure” if he inhaled when he smoked pot at age 16
Click has talked about his drug and alcohol use beginning in his early years several times on the campaign trail. The first instance came when the pastor was sharing memories at his campaign kickoff event.
“When I was 16… I got drunk, my dad gave me pot, I smoked my first joint with my dad, and by the way I haven’t smoked many since just so you know,” Click said during his campaign announcement speech. “I think I inhaled, but I’m not sure.”
7. Click has two Republican challengers in the March primary race
Click is facing off against current Seneca County Commissioner Shayne Thomas (R-Clinton Township) and environmental engineer Ed Ollom (R-Fremont) for the 88th district seat, which is currently held by Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin), who is running for state senate.