Making The Butler County Republican Party Great Again: People don’t want to think of Boss Hogg when they think of politics

At first, I thought of the complaints as leftovers from contentious issues that have divided the party, such as the Thomas Hall battle with Matt King and the obvious rift with Sheriff Jones and Roger Reynolds. I tend to view those kinds of things as family squabbles within a household. Usually, people get over things and move on, which was happening with that nice event for Thomas Hall. But when people who don’t usually deal with the Butler County Republican Party are complaining, they don’t know about the details, only their experience with it. And that experience has not lived up to the reputation of the past, where Butler County had a lot of volunteers, high engagement, and the kind of national reputation that made President Trump want to come and campaign in the area. But the reputation that was developing, because of all the rifts from leadership that was flowing out into state and federal politics, was not a good one. For a community of over 400,000 people, small-town politics was back in fashion where a few party leaders had turned the wonderful Butler County Republican Party into something that would make Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazzard blush. And that was embarrassing to hear. I had been hoping that after the 2022 election, many of those trends would level out and that much of the problem had been not having the unifying factor of Trump to rally behind. Without Trump, the party has reverted back to the differences that it had during the early 2000s. But now that Trump was running again, my hope was that the party would unite again behind him. However, this time there appeared to be a different kind of problem. Many older people in leadership now are in the way of younger and hungrier personalities, and those elements feel restricted in their ambitions, which is not a good thing for future growth.

This problem reminded me of the Cincinnati Bengals and how the Brown family just can’t get out of their own way for success. Sure, they have had some good players over the years, but they just have not been able to put together a successful string of seasons to show fabulous organizational presence. They went to the Super Bowl last year and had a pretty good season. They had the whole off-season to get better and improve on the previous year with essentially the same players. The Bengals invested in a new offensive line, but the results were not good. The quarterback, Joe Burrow, has been sacked more than any other NFL quarterback. So the Bengals didn’t get better because the problems with the Bengals were in their coaching and front office. Not the players on the field. So if leadership was always the problem, the Bengals didn’t help themselves by investing in an offensive line; if they didn’t have the kind of coaches who could take advantage of those improvements, then, of course, the problem would still present itself as a problem. Obviously, the Butler County Republican Party was having the same issues. Many new talents are coming into the party who can network and connect with the world. There are lots of MAGA Republicans across the state who are newly engaged in politics and are looking for jobs to do. But then, when they interact with Butler County, we have this Boss Hogg image that people have of our elderly leadership, and it turns them off, and it’s starting to show to the outside world. 

It was good to see a nice GOP event in Butler County dedicated to a victory celebration for Thomas Hall at the Majors Barn. It was a tough election season, and some hard feelings emerged during that race, which clearly split the Butler County Republican Party in half. But several people supported Matt King, who ran against Thomas for the 46th Representative Ohio seat. They were there to congratulate Thomas and to show leadership in coming together as a party now that the election was over. There were people there that I could speak with where things got pretty heated, and we had some nice conversations, and everyone made up. I know everyone couldn’t come, people were busy, but you could tell a lot about Republican Party leadership by who was there and who wasn’t. I can tell you someone, who was there, Roger Reynolds, was, and we had a nice conversation about the horrendous problem that was happening to him. I asked him if Sheriff Jones was going to pay for all his massive legal bills for the phony trial coming up for him in December of 2022, which to me looks like a complete political hit job. That is not the kind of thing that makes the Republican Party better, but something that has made it worse. Roger kind of smiled at me and shrugged his shoulders. He’s one of the good guys, and his only focus was on getting that mess behind him so he could live his life again. And Thomas and I spoke about the new Speaker of the House and what an excellent relationship those two had together, which was encouraging. Good things were happening. But I also received reports from some of the state people and the federal people who deal with Republican parties all over the country. Their impression of the Butler County Republican Party was not a good one. There were a lot of complaints about engagement, phone calls, appreciation letters, and just basic organization, and while I kept up a happy face inside, I was pretty mad. I am proud of the Butler County Republican Party and don’t like hearing people say bad things about it. 

Hey, I get it; we all get older. You look in the mirror and what looks back is a person falling apart. Age can be cruel. And when the dog doesn’t respect you, and your wife is complaining about you leaving your socks in the corner by the bathroom, and nobody thinks you’re all that special, it can feel great to go to a Party meeting and have everyone worship you for all the things you have done in your life. It’s hard to be big enough to get out of the way and let younger people step in and show their ambitions.   That has always been the Bengals problem; the Brown family has always gotten in the way of its own success. And that is what is happening with the Butler County Republican Party. It’s not just from the direction of the police, but there are commissioners, trustees, and many others who are holding positions as placeholders, then getting mad at the youth for nipping at their heels. And my advice to them, the elders, is if you really love the Republican Party, you would want to do the right thing, and that is to get out of the way and let those with the most ambition and freshest eyes step into leadership positions. Sometimes being a great leader is in getting out of the way. And hanging on to the past and living off a reputation to hide the aging process from your own eyes isn’t love. It’s selfish, and the only result is that you become the latest Boss Hogg in the world and become known not for good deeds but for corruption and ill-advised political fights that ruin everything a lifetime took to build.

Rich Hoffman

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