COLUMBUS - Eight of the nine major candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have filed petitions to compete in Ohio s March 2 primary election.
Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and New York Rev. Al Sharpton met yesterday s deadline for filing petitions to appear on the ballot.
Carol Moseley Braun, a former U.S. senator from Illinois, failed to file, ceding the Buckeye State even before the game has begun.
The eight major Democratic candidates who met the deadline will be joined on the ballot by Lyndon LaRouche Jr., who has run in every presidential election since 1976.
President Bush will stand alone on the GOP ticket in his bid for a second term.
“Imagine if Gephardt wins Iowa, Dean wins New Hampshire, and Edwards wins South Carolina,” said John Green, University of Akron political science professor. “Then a state like Ohio could be critical. It s a microcosm of the nation. If a Democratic candidate can do well in Ohio, he s likely to do pretty well in the general election.”
Beginning in 2000, Ohio moved up its presidential primary in hopes of playing a more influential role in the selection of party nominees. On March 2, Ohio will join 11 other Super Tuesday states, including such powerbrokers as California, Texas, and Massachusetts.
A strong showing in Ohio by Mr. Kucinich is crucial if his campaign is to be considered more than a long shot. Campaign spokesman David Swanson said the congressman s name will appear on the ballot in all 50 states.
“This is the congressman s home state and one that Democrats will need to defeat the incumbent,” Mr. Swanson said.
“Dennis is not just campaigning in Ohio, but in Iowa, New Hampshire, Texas, and California. He expects this primary nominating process to go down to the convention.”
For U.S. Senate, both Republican incumbent George Voinovich and the Democratic front-runner, state Sen. Eric Fingerhut, will face primary challenges, if petitions filed this week are deemed valid.
Mr. Voinovich, seeking a second six-year term, faces opposition from frequent candidate John Mitchel, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel from Beavercreek. Mr. Fingerhut faces opposition from Norbert Dennerll, Jr. of Elyria, who served on Cleveland City Council from 1957 to 1964.
There were no last-minute surprises for four Ohio Supreme Court seats.
Democrats are offering no resistance to the re-election of Justice Paul Pfeifer, a Bucyrus Republican who often has voted with the two Democrats on the court on school funding, tort reform, labor, and insurance issues.