Former Ohio GOP chairman Robert Bennett has died

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Bob Bennett, the longest serving chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, has died at the age of 75.

Bennett served as state GOP chairman from 1988 until 2009 and then came out of retirement to head the party in 2012 and 2013. He died at his Cleveland home early Saturday of a lingering cardiopulmonary illness.

His legacy as a keen political operative was burnished earlier this year when the Republican National Committee awarded Cleveland its 2016 national convention. Bennett was in Chicago for the RNC summer meeting in August and seconded the motion to bring the convention to Cleveland. He was the third-ranking member of the RNC.

Governor John Kasich released the following statement Saturday morning, “I was saddened to learn of the loss of Bob Bennett. Chairman Bennett was a giant of Ohio and national politics. He was a passionate but level-headed advocate for his ideas, a gifted leader and someone who earned the respect of his Democratic opponents even as he was beating them. He worked hard for his party and state and helped launch the careers of a generation of Ohio elected officials.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his children and family at this difficult time.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine also issued a statement about Bennett’s passing, “Fran and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Bob Bennett. We knew Bob for more than 25 years and greatly respected his work as an attorney and in politics. Bob Bennett was the architect of many Ohio Republican victories in the 1990s and 2000s, and he made the Ohio Republican Party a model which many other states sought to emulate. We join other Ohio Republicans in remembering Bob’s service to Ohio and the greater Cleveland community.”

Bennett was born in Columbus, graduated from Ohio State University and received his law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.