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Published: Friday, 8/22/2008

Candidate faults GOP infighting for fiasco

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Jan Scotland yesterday blamed the rift between Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook and the Republican representatives on the Lucas County Board of Elections for failing to make sure that his name appeared on the Nov. 4 ballot.

"I'm kind of disappointed that the apparatus let me down on this thing. I remember back to the good old days of running for office in the party when everybody pulled together and they made sure things like this didn't happen," Mr. Scotland said. "Apparently the rift in the party has caused the issue and I'm the collateral damage and I don't appreciate that."

The deadline for the Republican Party to have submitted Mr. Scotland's name as its substitute for the candidate who won the primary nomination was 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Mr. Stainbrook said he was unaware of the deadline, which appears in the Ohio secretary of state's election calendar for 2008.

The missed deadline means that the Democratic incumbent

Lucas County commissioner, Tina Skeldon Wozniak, will appear on the ballot unopposed.

Mr. Stainbrook said he met with a lawyer to prepare a writ of mandamus to be filed, possibly in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, to compel the board of elections to place Mr. Scotland's name on the ballot.

He contends that since the Nov. 4 ballot has not been printed the board should accept Mr. Scotland's name, even though the deadline had passed.

Mr. Scotland, 52, a self-employed insurance agent, said he hasn't given up hope that a legal challenge can be successful.

"From the people I talk to there may be a possibility of doing that. It's not something I'm hanging my hat on," Mr. Scotland said.

He ruled out running as a write-in candidate, saying that getting elected that way was a virtual impossibility.

Mr. Stainbrook repeated that his associate, Kelly Bensman, and Mr. Scotland had independently asked the board of elections what needed to be done to put Mr. Scotland on the ballot. Both said they were told Mr. Scotland had to file a designation of treasurer for his campaign committee, and Ms. Bensman was told that the party's executive committee had to meet to approve his selection, but no one mentioned the Aug. 20 deadline.

"The board of elections dropped the ball," Mr. Stainbrook said. "I'm very upset that I was given bad advice, and I'm very upset that the voters of Lucas County won't have an opponent on the ballot [against Ms. Wozniak] due to the fact that bureaucracy wins out over democracy."

Linda Howe, the director of the elections agency, said she interviewed both staff members that Mr. Scotland and Ms. Bensman said they had spoken with. She said both are clerks with limited responsibilities, and neither clerk understood each was being asked for a full explanation of what needed to be done for Mr. Scotland to be on the ballot. She was not sure whether either one knew about the deadline.

"I think both sides need to sit down and try to get all this squabbling behind us," he said.

The party has split into factions since Mr. Stainbrook, a party activist, filed an insurgent slate of central committee candidates in January and won the party chairmanship in June from incumbent chairman Bob Reichert. During the campaign he accused Republican board members and employees of the elections board of doing favors for Mr. Reichert's candidates and trying to undermine his candidates, a charge that was denied.

Since becoming chairman, he has demanded the resignation of both Republican members of the elections board, Patrick Kriner and Lynn Olman; both have refused. The two said they were not aware of the deadline for Mr. Scotland.

Mr. Olman said that even though the law puts the responsibility on the party, the real responsibility for making sure the candidate's name is submitted to the board of elections by the filing deadline belongs to the candidate, in this case Mr. Scotland.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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