CLEVELAND, Ohio — Alex Arshinkoff, the longtime leader of the Summit County Republican Party, has died, according to top Ohio Republicans.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who was close to Arshinkoff, issued a statement Monday evening expressing sympathy to Arshinkoff’s family, saying he had talked to him earlier in the day.
“He was upbeat, looking to the future, and giving me good advice. Alex could always make me smile and laugh, which was what he did this morning. No one understood politics better than Alex,” DeWine said.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, a Summit County native, issued a statement on Twitter:
My thoughts and prayers are with Karen and the entire family of Summit County Republican Chairman and GOP stalwart Alex Arshinkoff.
— Mary Taylor (@MaryTaylorOH) August 28, 2017
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said:
There are two things Alex Arshinkoff loved: his wife and politics. I always had a great time with Alex and learned a lot. He’ll be missed.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) August 29, 2017
More information about Arshinkoff’s death was not immediately available, although those who knew him said he had been in poor health recently. He was 62.
Lance Reed, the executive director of the Summit County Republican Party, confirmed Arshinkoff’s death, but declined to comment further on Monday evening.
Arshinkoff helped build one of the most prominent county parties Ohio thanks in large part to his fundraising prowess, despite being located in a traditionally Democratic area. The ascendancy of Ohio GOP leaders like Arshinkoff paralleled the electoral successes Republicans enjoyed as the state has drifted slowly rightward on the political spectrum.
He was elected to lead the Summit County GOP at the age of 24, the youngest ever county party chairman.
He was a protegee of Ray Bliss, the longtime Summit County Republican Party leader, who is the namesake of the Ray Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. Bliss — and by extension, Arshinkoff — provided a playbook on how Republicans can be successful in politically hostile territory, said John Green, a political scientist who is the director of the University of Akron’s Bliss institute.
In an interview Monday evening, Green related a story Arshinkoff had told him about his first election after taking control of the Summit County GOP.
“Democrats won big and Alex was deeply depressed,” Green said. “And suddenly there was a phone call from Ray Bliss. And he said, ‘Alex, get…