COLUMBUS, Ohio — Alex Arshinkoff, a GOP political boss credited with mentoring a generation of young politicians and helping elect presidents, has died. He was 62.
Arshinkoff, the Republican chairman for Summit County, died Monday, according to Ohio Republican Chair Jane Timken.
He had been undergoing dialysis for several years and had been in deteriorating health since a 2012 car accident, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
Arshinkoff was one of the state’s most powerful and longest-serving party chairs, a man once credited by former President George W. Bush as the most effective chairman in America.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he had spoken to Arshinkoff by phone on Monday morning, and he, as always, made DeWine “laugh and smile.”
“He was upbeat, looking to the future, and giving me good advice,” the Republican officeholder and 2018 gubernatorial candidate said in a statement.
Arshinkoff was viewed by many as a brilliant political tactician. He took over the small county party in northeast Ohio in 1978, at age 23, and turned it into a fundraising dynamo that gave millions of dollars to candidates. The party had contributed $2.8 million to Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign before receiving the Republican’s praise.
Arshinkoff’s demands that donors give to the party instead of spreading their contributions among individual candidates was both the source of his county operation’s might and the heart of criticism against it. He fought back political attacks by both Democrats and fellow Republicans over the years.
“Do I kick ass sometimes to make sure things get done? You’re damn right,” Arshinkoff told The Associated Press in a 2008 interview. At the time, he had been removed from the county elections board by then-Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and was simultaneously facing an intraparty fight for control. Arshinkoff survived both.
Timken called him an icon.
“For decades, Chairman Arshinkoff mentored Republicans across Ohio and provided them with a road map for success,” she said.
DeWine said Arshinkoff succeeded in a heavily Democratic county by recruiting good candidates, raising money to fund them and working hard to fund them.
“No one understood politics better than Alex,” DeWine said.