LISBON - Craig Newbold is stepping down as the Republican candidate for state representative, with Salem minister Tim Ginter expected to take his place.
Ginter, 58, filed petitions Monday with the Columbiana County elections board as a write-in candidate seeking the Republican nomination for state representative in the May 6 primary election. Monday was the deadline for write-in candidates.
County Republican Party Chairman David Johnson issued a news release Monday announcing that Ginter was now the party-backed candidate after Newbold advised him earlier this month he intended to withdraw from the race, for "personal" reasons.
The email from Newbold was received by Johnson on Feb. 10, five days after the filing deadline had passed for anyone wanting to run in the primary election as a Democrat or Republican, which is why Ginter will have to run as a write-in.
Johnson said Newbold, who was seeking to regain the state representative seat he lost to Democrat Nick Barborak in 2012, was apologetic about the timing but indicated it would be unfair to the party and electorate for him to continue.
"I have nothing but respect for Craig and wish him the best," he said.
Johnson said he immediately cast about for a replacement and approached Ginter, who had previously expressed interest in running for the House seat but deferred to Newbold. Ginter agreed to run in Newbold's place, and his candidacy has the blessing of the Ohio House Republican Caucus, which provides funding for priority races.
Newbold could not be reached for comment on his cell phone, but elections board Director Adam Booth said he received an email Monday evening from Newbold advising him he was withdrawing.
Johnson denied there was anything more to this than Newbold simply wanting to step aside, saying he issued his news release with the understanding Newbold was going to do likewise announcing his formal withdrawal. No such news release was received.
"He had the full support of the party and he had the full support of me," Johnson said of Newbold, who lost to Barborak by 507 votes in 2012. "I can't tell you what is in his mind, but I can certainly tell you he was not forced out."
This is the second major shake-up in the state representative race within a week. On Feb. 18, the elections board rejected the petitions of Libertarian state representative candidate Martin Elsass due to problems with how his petitions were filled out.
This is not Ginter's first foray into politics. In 2008, he was the Republican nominee for state senator, losing to Democrat Jason Wilson.
"It's certainly an unconventional way to begin the campaign," he said of his state representative bid.
An ordained minister for the past 30 years, Ginter said he also worked for Newbold at one time and considers him a friend, which is why he deferred to him when Newbold opted to run again.
"I thought it was a done deal until Dave Johnson contacted me," he said. "My course is set and I'm running and I'm running to win."
As pastor of the Church at the Center in Salem, Ginter said he consulted with his congregation and church leaders before deciding to run. While serving as minister, Ginter worked as director of development until 2010 for two of Newbold's companies in East Liverpool.
"My background of serving the people of Columbiana County in both job creation and as a minister make me uniquely qualified to understand the struggles that many local individuals and families face," he said.
Ginter said he worked at various times as a construction worker, manufacturing laborer and machinist while going to college. "So I know what it's like to come home with blisters and grease on your hands," he said.
He and his wife Pam have a daughter, Angie, and three grandchildren. They have lived in the county since the late 1990s and in Jefferson County prior to that.