COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Multiple Democratic state legislative candidates are suing Ohio’s top election official to get their names on the ballot.
In the latest ripple effect of Ohio’s redistricting battle, the seven hopefuls – six of whom are from central Ohio – say Secretary of State Frank LaRose erroneously instructed boards of elections to reject their petitions, according to a complaint filed Tuesday with the Ohio Supreme Court.
The argument stems from when was the filing deadline for Ohio’s second primary election, set for Aug. 2. If the court rejects the plaintiffs’ arguments, Democrats may not have any official candidates in the Democratic-leaning Senate District 25 and House Districts 11 and 39.
Under Ohio law, aspiring officeholders must file a petition for candidacy 90 days before the date of a primary election. That means, for candidates running in the May 3 primary, the filing deadline was Feb. 2.
But if counting backward 90 days from Aug. 2, the filing deadline was May 4.
In a directive Saturday, LaRose ordered county election officials to recertify or reject by Friday any candidates who filed after Feb. 2 for the May 3 primary.
But given the Republican-dominated Ohio Redistricting Commission’s months-long fight with the Ohio Supreme Court that led the state to hold two primary elections, plaintiffs contend that they weren’t required to file for office until May 4.
Despite the state court striking down the commission’s third set of legislative maps that favored Republicans, a federal three-judge panel ordered LaRose to use the maps anyway, citing the need to be ready for Aug. 2.
LaRose, however, argued that the federal ruling did not change the Feb. 2 filing deadline.
All candidates in the suit met the deadlines that plaintiffs argue LaRose should follow, according to their individual declarations of candidacy.
- Bill DeMora, of Columbus: Filed to run for Ohio’s 25th Senate district on April 25
- Bridgette Tupes, of Bexley: Filed to run for state central committee member on April 25
- Anita Somani, of Dublin: Filed to run for Ohio’s 11th House district on May 2
- Gary Martin, of Pataskala: Filed to run for state central committee member on May 3
Write-in candidates have 72 days before the start of a primary election to submit a petition for candidacy, according to Ohio Revised Code. Leronda Jackson and Elizabeth Thien are also part of the suit, saying they met their deadline by filing on May 16 and 23, respectively.
Also a plaintiff in the lawsuit is Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus), who currently represents District 17 in the Ohio House.
Miller filed suit against LaRose for ordering candidates in his directive to file their plans to move into their respective legislative district by March 10, about a month after the redistricting commission first approved the set of legislative maps that will be used in the August primary.
Miller, who is now running to represent Ohio House District 6, said he was unable to move to the new district, as he was on military duty as a U.S. army reserve member at the time.