Blake Rear tops Skip Claypool after four rounds of voting
Geauga County Republican Party Central Committee members voted four times Saturday morning before Blake Rear garnered enought votes — 24 — to be appointed as the newest county commissioner.
Former Commissioner Skip Claypool offered the closest competition, receiving 20 votes.
Other candidates were Chardon Vice Mayor Nancy McArthur, South Russell Councilman Mark Porter, former Chardon Councilwoman Mary Bramstedt and Chardon Mayor Phil King.
A total of 44 central committee members were eligible to vote at the Geauga County Republican Party headquarters on Route 44 in Munson Township.
Nearly as many interested residents and a number of county officials attended the public meeting, shaking hands, slapping backs and trying to be heard over the roar of conversation.
At 10 a.m., Geauga County Republican Party Chairman Ed Ryder called the meeting to order and the candidates each had five timed minutes for a last campaign speech.
After the first round, Claypool led with 18 votes. Rear had 15 votes, McArthur seven, Bramstedt one and King none.
Results of the second round were: Claypool 20, Rear 16, McArthur three and Bramstedt one.
After the third round of voting, Rear and Claypool each had 20 votes. At that point, the remaining candidates withdrew.
Shortly after noon, the fourth vote was counted and Rear was declared the winner, to much applause.
His acceptance speech was brief and the meeting adjourned shortly thereafter.
Before voting commenced, Ryder noted three committee members recently had moved out of their precincts, It was agreed those members should not be allowed to vote in the selection of the county commissioner to replace Tracy Jemison, who resigned effective Oct. 31.
Late in the day, Rear said he was “mostly shocked” at the outcome, having started with just 15 votes and ending up with 24.
“What a comeback,” he said, adding after the first round of votes he didn’t expect to win. “I’m a pessimist at heart.”
The Geauga County Board of Elections will send the paperwork Columbus for approval before Rear can take his seat at the commissioners’ table. The earliest he is likely to become an active member of the board will be Nov. 21 or Nov. 26, he said.
“I was very pleased with the Central Committee this morning,” Rear said, noting there were no outbursts and there was reasonable decorum.
Rear said he will have to run in the May 2014 primary and again in November of 2014. Jemison’s term is up in 2016, so Rear said he will have to run again if he wants to be re-elected for a full term.
“That’s four campaigns in two years,” he said, adding he is OK with that.
“I am committed and financially able to campaign in the upcoming elections,” Rear stated in his campaign literature.
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