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Published: Friday, 8/22/2014

GOP justice recuses herself from Lucas County lawsuit


COLUMBUS — Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith Lanzinger, a Toledo Republican, will not hear the Lucas County Republican Party’s challenge to Secretary of State Jon Husted’s refusal to appoint the party’s recommendations to the local elections board.

The lawsuit contends Mr. Husted, a Republican, had insufficient grounds for refusing to accept the party’s nominations of Kelly Bensman and Benjamin Roberts in June after he removed three of the four members.

Justice Lanzinger’s notice of recusal did not explain her reasoning, but she’s repeatedly appeared on local and statewide ballots.

It remains to be seen whether more recusals are coming. Two incumbent Republicans, Justices Sharon Kennedy and Judith French, are on the ballot this year.

Alleging a “culture of dysfunction,” Mr. Husted removed county GOP Chairman Jon Stainbrook, GOP member Tony DeGidio, and Democratic Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler from the elections board. That left Democrat John Irish.

He rejected the GOP’s recommended replacements, who Mr. Husted contended were too close to the problem and appointed Ottawa Hills attorney Mark Wagoner, Sr., and former appellate Judge Peter Handwork of Sylvania Township. He also appointed Brenda Hill, the Democrats’ recommendation.

The Supreme Court consists of six Republicans and one Democrat.

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