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Bennett wants to head the Ohio GOP through 2014
Ohio's longest serving Republican Party chairman returns to his old post
This story is part of a special series.

Jo Ingles
Former and now newly elected Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett was sworn in this morning.
Courtesy of Jo Ingles
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In The Region:

The Ohio Republican Party is returning to familiar leadership. As expected, longtime Chairman Bob Bennett was officially been sworn into that post again today.  Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles has details.

INGLES on Bennett taking over

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Kevin DeWine had a good track record when it comes to winning elections. Since he took the helm from long-time Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett in 2009, DeWine had overseen the near sweep by the GOP of state government. Republicans won every statewide office in 2010, and control of the Ohio Legislature and state Supreme Court.

But when one of those winners, Gov. John Kasich, came into office, his backers started a campaign to oust DeWine so Kasich could put his own person in charge. 

A nasty battle divided Republican leaders, leading DeWine to officially step down today.

Bennett says he's not interested in another career, just two  more years 
At a meeting of the Republican State Central Committee in Columbus, DeWine made his final remarks as chairman and welcomed his replacement: Bob Bennett.

“I can assure you that I’m not beginning a career as a long-time chairman of the party, but I will work on behalf of the ticket until the end of 2014.”

Bennett says, after the presidential election this fall, the state committee will start considering who they might want to be the next leader of the party. He said unity is key.

“It got off track in 2010 during the election for whatever reason, and it’s a bump in the road for the Republican party,” he said.

Bennett says Kasich is in charge
Bennett says there’s more to the decision than DeWine’s record, that that it’s important for the party to get behind Gov. Kasich.

“I understand that people are sometimes fearful of change, but he’s (Kasich) getting a lot of good changes in this state that will set this state on course for our children and grandchildren,” Bennett said. “I encouraged John to run for governor because I thought he had the ability.

“He’s a risk taker, just like Jim Rhodes, in travelling the state and concentrating on what’s important to turn this economy around here.”

Bennett insisted the state central committee already is unified.

Unity with a 'but' 
But there were signs of stress during this morning’s meeting. At one point, outgoing leader DeWine joked that he was not leaving fast enough for some people. And when the committee was asked to unanimously allow DeWine to represent the Ohio Republican Party on the national presidential convention committee, one member loudly shouted “no” during the vote. 

Doug Priesse, a strong ally of Gov. Kasich who wanted DeWine to step down, said don’t make too much of that.

“That was one member, for whatever reason, wanted to bark about that. But frankly I thought it was a resounding and positive sign that there was a strong vote of confidence for Kevin to serve the remainder of that national committee spot”.

Republican Bob Bennett said one thing will unite Ohio Republicans – defeating President Obama in November.

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