Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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2nd justice declines to hear complaint

COLUMBUS — A second Ohio Supreme Court justice has announced she 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 Lucas County Board of Elections.

Justice Judith French, a Republican, filed a notice of recusal Tuesday.

Justice Judith Lanzinger, a Toledo Republican, notified the court of her recusal on Thursday.

A spokesman said the court hasn’t decided whether to appoint temporary replacements.

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 election board members.

As with Justice Lanzinger, Justice French’s notice of recusal did not explain her reasons. She has been a guest of Republican Party events in Lucas County organized by Mr. Stainbrook.

Justice Sharon Kennedy is the other incumbent Republican on the court who is on the ballot this year.

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

Mr. Husted rejected the GOP’s recommended replacements, who he said 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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