Story updated on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at 6:13 p.m. to reflect the following correction: Rex Damschroder failed to sign two of his five signature petitions.
FREMONT — Tiffin businessman Bill Reineke Jr. announced today that he will file as a write-in candidate for the Republican nomination for the 88th House District, as incumbent state Rep. Rex Damschroder (R., Fremont) is facing the possibility that a clerical error has barred him from the ballot this year.
Mr. Reineke, 59, is president of Tiffin Ford-Lincoln Inc., and partner of Reineke Family Dealerships, which has eight locations.
Mr. Damschroder, 64, withdrew as a candidate on Feb. 12 when he was informed he had failed to sign two of his five signature petitions, which would prevent his petitions from being certified.
He said today that he is being told by the House Republican lawyers that he may be barred by state law from running either as a write-in in the May 6 primary election or as an independent in the November election.
“I’m told I can’t be a write-in now because I made a clerical error,” Mr. Damschroder said. He said it’s unfair that every other voter in the 88th District could file as a write-in but not him because of the way the law is interpreted. He said he needed the signatures on only one of the two faulty petitions to meet the minimum requirement.
"All that was needed was one signature to make me a candidate," Mr. Damschroder said.
He said a potential option for him to run or to reclaim his position in the legislature, where he is chairman of the House Transportation Committee, is for someone else to file as a write-in and then resign, allowing him to be appointed.
Until Mr. Damschroder withdrew as a candidate, no one else had filed to run for the seat in this election. Now it appears that there will be both Republican and Democratic contenders.
Bill Young, a retired Green Springs government teacher, is expected to file as a write-in for the Democratic nomination, said Keary McCarthy, chief of staff for the House Democratic Caucus in Columbus.
“He’s a super-nice guy, smart, knows the issues, will be a great candidate for us. He was a great candidate in 2012,” Mr. McCarthy said today.
Mr. Damschroder defeated Mr. Young in 2012 by 55.6 percent to 44.4 percent in the district that includes all of Sandusky County and most of Seneca County.
Write-in candidates must submit their intent to run by Feb. 24. Their names will not appear on the May 6 ballot. The candidate with the most write-in votes - provided it is more than 50 votes - will win the Republican nomination to appear on the November general election ballot.
Mr. Reineke said he believes he can play a significant leadership role in economic development for the district.
“For the last 30 years, I have been involved with retailing in Seneca County, and have consistently and enthusiastically supported Tiffin and Seneca County to make our community a better place to live and work," he said in a prepared statement.
He also said it was his intent to work hard for the district to give residents the representation they deserve.
Mr. Reineke unsuccessfully sought the appointment for a vacant state Senate seat in 2011. He said he was raised in Fostoria and is the eldest of 10 children. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morehead State University.
He is a business partner with his siblings and father, William Sr., in a business that operates car dealerships in Tiffin, Fostoria, Upper Sandusky, Lima, North Baltimore, and Findlay, and employs 380 full and part-time people.
Mr. Reineke said he has served as the Seneca Regional Chamber of Commerce board chairman, received the “Outstanding Citizen Award” from the Chamber, and was co-founder and is vice chairman of Tiffin Tomorrow. He is the Ohio Director for the National Automobile Dealers Association and is a member of the Heidelberg University Board of Trustees.