Thursday, Jun 30, 2016
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GENERAL ELECTION

Libertarian candidates removed from ballot

Petitions ruled invalid after Husted’s review

COLUMBUS — Charlie Earl, the would-be Libertarian candidate for Ohio governor, was removed from the ballot Friday by Secretary of State Jon Husted.

The Republican secretary of state agreed with the findings of his hearing officer, Brad Smith, that petitions submitted by two professional signature gatherers, both independent contractors, were invalid because they did not note on the petitions who paid them, as required by state election law.

Attorney general candidate Steven R. Linnabary, a Columbus civil engineer, also was removed from the ballot. That means no Libertarian qualified for the ballot for any statewide office.

The deadline has already passed for write-in candidates to file with the secretary of state’s office for both offices, although the Libertarian Party did meet the deadline for write-in candidates for secretary of state and state auditor.

Mr. Husted’s announcement came about an hour before the Libertarian Party of Ohio was set to launch its convention at a Worthington hotel, with Mr. Earl scheduled to be the luncheon speaker today.

Party spokesman Aaron Keith Harris said this decision will only fire up the crowd more.

“This is a pattern of harassment from a party that is nothing but cowards and bullies,” he said. “They don’t want Ohio voters to have an actual choice on the ballot this November. This will get overturned in federal court.

“This is a decision from a [George W.] Bush guy from the [Federal Election Commission] for Husted and is a Republican mafia hit on voting rights in Ohio,” Mr. Harris said.

Mr. Smith is a Capital University law professor and former FEC commissioner.

Mr. Earl, a former Republican state representative from Bowling Green, had been mentioned as a possible alternative for conservative Republicans angry with Gov. John Kasich because of his successful push to expand Medicaid under the federal health-care law and his refusal to support efforts to make Ohio the latest right-to-work state.

Among the scheduled guests at the Libertarian convention this weekend is Tom Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County Tea Party, who tried without success to get a tea-party Republican on the ballot to challenge Mr. Kasich for the GOP nomination in the May 6 primary election.

Those protesting the Earl and Linnabary petitions had argued that a law firm, consultant, and other political operatives usually associated with the Democratic Party had stepped in at the last minute to put the Libertarian petitions over the top.

But Mr. Smith on Friday did not rule that signatures gathered through their help should be invalidated.

Along with Mr. Earl, his running mate, Sherry L. Clark, was removed from the ballot.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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