Donald Trump’s campaign has severed ties with the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, according to a letter from Trump’s Ohio state director that highlighted extraordinary intra-party discord in a key swing state less than a month before the election.
Robert Paduchik, Trump’s Ohio state director, said in his Saturday letter to members of the GOP’s state central committee that state Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, whom he copied on the note, “does not represent or speak for the candidate and he no longer has any affiliation with the Trump-Pence campaign.”
The Columbus Dispatch first reported the letter, which appears under Trump campaign letterhead and was confirmed by Seth Unger, Trump’s Ohio spokesman.
In it, Paduchik writes that Trump is “very disappointed” with Borges’s “duplicity,” according to a conversation they had this week. Paduchik accuses Borges of embarking on a “self-promotional media tour with state and national outlets to criticize our party’s nominee.”
“Mr. Trump told me, ‘this is why people have lost faith in the establishment and party leaders.’ I have to agree with him. Too often some leaders of our party have been quick to bail on candidates and principles; it’s why our nation is on the wrong track,” writes Paduchik.
Ohio is seen as critical to Trump’s chances on Nov. 8. Recent polling shows Democrat Hillary Clinton has pulled slightly ahead of Trump in the state. Trump is struggling to gain traction in key states after The Washington Post reported a 2005 video on which Trump can be heard talking in vulgar terms on a hot microphone about forcing himself on women sexually. After the report, Trump has faced accusations from half a dozen women that he groped and kissed them without their consent. Trump denies the allegations and said he never engaged in behavior he talked about on the 2005 video.
Paduchik’s letter is accompanied by copies of recent news reports in which Borges is noncommittal about supporting the GOP nominee. In a Cleveland.com story published this week, Borges discusses recent conversations with Trump and says he is very open to voting for the nominee. But he does not guarantee it.
“There is no way I will ever vote for Hillary,” Borges said. “I’m going to vote on Election Day. And if everything he’s pledged to me turns out to be true and we run this campaign the way we need to run it for the last four weeks, of course I’ll vote for our nominee.”
Borges did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post on Saturday. He told The Post late last month that he had urged Trump to run “a very disciplined, different kind of campaign” in Ohio.
“Can this thing just end — please?” Borges said at the time, reflecting upon Trump’s actions. He added, with a sigh: “My God, what a nightmare.”
As Trump struggles in the polls, his operations in important states have experienced turmoil that campaigns typically strive hard to avoid this late in the race. This week, Trump’s campaign fired Virginia state director Corey Stewart after Stewart joined a protest accusing the Republican National Committee of not supporting the campaign strongly enough.
Paduchik writes that he expects the Ohio Republican Party to “support the Trump Victory payroll, HR and other services it provides.”
He concludes: “If Chairman Borges refuses to continue meeting that obligation, I respectfully ask the committee to direct the Chairman to meet the party’s obligations.”
Unger did not immediately respond to a request for an interview with Paduchik. Trump spokesman Jason Miller did not immediately respond to a question about whether Paduchik’s letter reflects Trump’s opinion on the situation.
Read the entire letter below: