CLEVELAND, Ohio – Reince Priebus has an Ohio problem.

Let us count the ways.

Priebus then presided over a Cleveland convention that left Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges and other Buckeye State delegates feeling slighted by pettiness.

Meanwhile, the RNC has no communications director here – an unusual deficiency given Ohio’s battleground status. The first person who had the job left, in part, because he could not stomach supporting Trump’s brand of bigotry. The second person who had the job bolted after two weeks and a big fight with Trump’s state director. No one is beating down the door to be the third.

And now Priebus is picking at the scab. During a TV appearance Sunday, he warned that Kasich’s refusal to endorse Trump could trigger party penalties if Kasich runs for president again. That drew outrage from Borges and from Kasich’s political strategist, John Weaver.

Priebus’ problem, at the moment, is not Trump’s problem. Recent Ohio polls show Trump has climbed to a slight lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton. But friction between the RNC-Trump faction and in-state Republicans is hardly ideal in a presidential election year.

Upsetting Borges is a risk Priebus cannot afford to take. The staunch Kasich ally has helped the Trump team find its footing in the state, even as many of the governor’s other loyalists refused to play a part in the campaign. Borges, according to GOP sources, often speaks with Trump before an Ohio visit and counsels him on what to say – and, more importantly, what not to say.

Borges also has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Priebus. That speculation had been based on buzz that Priebus would step aside after the November election. But the national chairman has hinted he might try to keep the job. It’s better for him to have Borges, who has Kasich’s backing and good relationships in the national party, as a friend than as a foe.

“No,” Borges wrote in a message posted to Twitter after Priebus’ televised threat. “This is not what we are all about as a party. Besides, let’s stay focused on 2016 for the next 50 days.”

On Monday, Borges said he would not give serious thought to the RNC chairmanship until after the November election. But he said so by telephone from Chicago, where he was tagging along at Republican fundraisers with another Kasich ally, Rep. Pat Tiberi of the Columbus area. Borges noted that the trip included face time with Illinois’ RNC committee members.

Priebus had not reached out to apologize as of Tuesday morning.

“I just want to believe that it was not a good moment,” Borges said. “He got asked a question that he could have just easily brushed aside, and instead he answered it, maybe because he’s frustrated. … I don’t want to even be perceived as being overly critical of Reince. But John Kasich is the governor. And whether that would be good for me for being the [national] chairman or not good for me being the chairman, I am going to defend him.”

Priebus remains angry that Kasich has not endorsed Trump, despite pledging during the primaries to back the eventual nominee. Borges said Priebus expressed irritation after Kasich met with Democratic President Barack Obama at the White House last week to urge support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a foreign trade deal Trump has vehemently opposed.

“The last person you should be lashing out at is the guy who created an environment for Republicans to thrive in Ohio,” Borges said of Kasich, who has high job-approval ratings and remains popular after a landslide re-election victory in 2014. “They’re frustrated. I get that. But that’s the lay of the land. Go out there and run the race you can without him.”

Priebus’ embrace of Trump has been one of this election’s biggest puzzles. He justifies his support as following the will of the Republican voters and delegates who nominated Trump. But, with few exceptions, Priebus essentially has blessed Trump’s lies and offensive comments.

Previous coverage: The Donald Trump deplorables are out there. I know because I hear from them.

The RNC was unable to schedule an interview with Priebus for this story.

Here are the questions hoped he would answer:

You largely tolerated Trump’s racially charged rhetoric and other inflammatory remarks before and after his nomination. Given your leadership position in the party, you could have stood up and penalized or disincentivized that type of behavior. You didn’t. Now you are suggesting there could be penalties for Kasich and others who have taken a stand against Trump.

Simply put: Why is it OK to meddle in Kasich’s affairs but not in Trump’s?

As RNC chairman, why haven’t you stepped in more forcefully to condemn the language Trump is using? Do you not see it as your responsibility to stand up for decency?

Are you at all worried the Republican Party has backslid after the 2012 election and the subsequent autopsy that spelled out a need to be more welcoming to minority voters?

What about other Republicans who have called out Trump for his rhetoric – Republicans such as Sens. Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse. Could they also be punished? How?

What about Ohio Sen. Rob Portman? He has endorsed Trump but seems to publicly voice disagreement and disappointment with Trump more often than not. Should he be punished, too?

Why are you perpetuating Trump’s unfounded claim that Hillary Clinton started “birtherism” – the erroneous theory that President Barack Obama is not a naturally born U.S. citizen?

Trump, on the other hand, promoted this theory himself for years – even after proof to the contrary. Even if a Clinton aide or two raised this quietly back in 2008, how is that comparable to what Trump has done? And why do you seem to excuse Trump but not Clinton?

We are talking about an effort to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president. How do you think Donald Trump’s birther crusade plays in the African-American community?

Priebus, through RNC officials, has declined previous interview requests from A spokesman expressed initial interest after a Monday morning request. But Priebus never responded.

“We are solely focused on winning back the White House and maintaining our majorities in the House and Senate,” the spokesman said Tuesday via email.

This post will be updated if the chairman offers belated answers.