Doug Preisse easily brushed off a challenge May 26 to his chairmanship of the Franklin County Republican Party.

Doug Preisse easily brushed off a challenge May 26 to his chairmanship of the Franklin County Republican Party.

The six-year leader of the local GOP executive committee was contested by Bill Todd, who pushed members to shift back to conservative principles.

"If we aren't Reagan conservatives, what are we?" he said.

Todd chided Preisse, a German Village resident, for what he saw as a lack of outreach to Tea Party members, 9-12 Project activists, minorities, independents and young people.

"It's time for a renewed playbook," Todd said during his address to central committee members, who voted 86-44 in favor of Preisse, with 10 members not voting.

Preisse, 48, defended his record as chair, and bristled at the suggestion he didn't do enough to court more members. Over the past six years, local Republicans have bested their Democratic counterparts in fundraising by more than $800,000, he said.

Preisse, who was unanimously endorsed by the nominating committee, urged members to focus on the real fight -- against the Democrats in November.

It has been about 25 years since a county GOP chairman has fended off a contest. After the vote, Preisse said he took the challenge seriously but does not harbor any ill will.

"I think it's good to be reminded why we're in this and what we stand for from time to time from any critic or source," he said. "But I still point to our candidates as our best evidence of the good work we do."

Tensions ran high at the meeting, which was held on the second floor of the Athletic Club of Columbus. There were three separate motions to break with standard meeting procedures. All were defeated -- and some vigorously shouted down -- by the majority of committee members.

Todd, 57, seemed to take the vote in stride.

"It is very difficult to challenge a sitting chairman, especially in an election year," said Todd, who was unsuccessful in his bid to unseat Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman in 2007.

Todd, an attorney who now lives in Bexley, said he would put aside the loss and work with Preisse and the party to achieve their goals.

In other news from the meeting, the following officers were re-elected to the executive committee: Doug Moody as vice chairman; James Ervin as secretary; and John Rosan as treasurer.

Also, Brad Sinnott was re-elected as chairman of the central committee; Mary Leavitt as vice chairman; Bill Curlis as secretary; and Anne Gonzales as treasurer.