Tensions are escalating in the Republican primary race for the 88th district Ohio House seat.
Controversial Baptist preacher Gary Click (R-Vickery) launched a new Facebook ad last week attacking his leading challenger in the three-way primary, Seneca County Commissioner Shayne Thomas (R-Clinton Twp.), over his “Trump credentials.”
Thomas recently sent out a mailer ad to Republican voters in the 88th district, which includes all of Sandusky County and the majority of Seneca County, touting his support of President Trump.
The mailer ad is entitled “Shayne Thomas and President Trump Agree, Columbus Needs:” and then lists “More Tax Reform,” “Defend Life,” “Support the Second Amendment.”
The president is prominently featured standing next to Shayne Thomas by the magic of Photoshop.
“While his opponent photoshops a mailer, Gary is a 2020 Trump delegate,” the recent Facebook ad from Click says in response to Thomas’s mailer.
The president, however, has not made an endorsement in the race and is unlikely to do so, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Click then goes on to brag that he is “the only candidate permitted to speak at Trump Victory events, is endorsed by the ORP and stood by the president at the Trump Rally in Columbus.”
In addition to Click and Thomas, environmental engineer Ed Ollom (R-Fremont) is running in the March primary for the 88th district seat, which is currently held by Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin), who is running for state senate.
Click, originally from Indiana, is a former community theater actor and currently works as a pastor at Fremont Baptist Temple. Click, one of the first candidates for state office in the area without any private sector experience, currently serves on the Republican State Central Committee, representing the 26th Senate district.
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.
Click is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Ackison over defamation, slander, and other accusations.
Click has also been endorsed in the Republican primary race for state rep by the Ohio Republican Party, Gov. Mike DeWine, and several mayors and elected officials throughout the 88th district. Thomas touts his endorsement from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Click unsuccessfully ran for Sandusky County Commissioner in 2016, losing in a three-way Republican primary.