Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Campbell County GOP chief steps down

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLD SPRING — Sixteen months after being elected head of the divided Campbell County Republican Party, Chairwoman Ruth “Sam” Smith has resigned to make room for what she called “some new blood.”

        “I've done this for a year and a half, and I just can't see doing anymore than I've already done,” said Mrs. Smith, a Cold Spring resident.

        “I've had my turn, and we've had some good success” she said. “It was good to have a female in a position like this, but it's time for somebody new, some new blood that can get a fire going here.”

        Mrs. Smith plans to stay active in the party. She said no event or circumstance triggered her resignation, which was tendered last week. Rather, it was a matter of timing, she said.

        GOP leaders and activists are pondering how her successor will bring together a county party that has been divided in recent years by factions fueling parochialism between Republicans in Fort Thomas and those in Alexandria and the south end of the county.

        “I'm disappointed to hear Sam is leaving,” said Campbell County Coroner Dr. Mark Schweitzer of Fort Thomas, who was elected last year.

        “I know Sam really tried to extend (a hand) to all parts of the party and all parts of the county,” he said. “But given what's happened at times in the party, she did a great job.”

        Now, with the November elections over, is a good time to step down so the next chairman can begin preparing for the 2000 elections, Mrs. Smith said.

        News of her departure touched off speculation about who will take her place as chairman of the Campbell County Republican Executive Committee, the official name of the party's governing body.

        Among the names being mentioned are committee members Howard McEwen of Highland Heights, the vice chairman; Dave Malone of Fort Thomas; Hayes Robertson of Alexandria; and Barb Haas, a GOP campaign and fund-raising strategist from Fort Thomas who was recently appointed to the Campbell County Board of Elections.

        “Sam Smith should be thanked and commended for holding the fort down on the Campbell County Executive Committee,” said State GOP Vice Chairman Damon Thayer of Grant County.

        Campbell County is home to several prominent GOP office-holders, including U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning of Southgate; state lawmakers Katie Stine and Joe Fischer, each of Fort Thomas, and Jon David Reinhardt of Claryville; and Judge-executive Steve Pendery, also of Fort Thomas.

        “But this (executive) committee is not on par with its Republican brethren in Boone and Kenton counties, where Republicans have had more success winning and holding office,” Mr. Thayer said.

        “This is a committee that should do better, and that's no reflection on Sam, because it goes way back to before she was chairman,” Mr. Thayer said.

        Former committee Chairman Norb Gettys, a Fort Thomas lawyer, agreed, saying polarization within the party has cost the GOP some elections.

        “Those divisions have hurt the party by pulling resources, information and campaign money in too many directions,” said Mr. Gettys, who was chairman in the early to mid-1990s.

        “The only way to win elections and be successful is to present a united front, and that hasn't happened in the Campbell County Republican Party,” he said.

        Mr. Thayer said the time is ripe to involve some new people on the executive committee.


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