Disqualified Ohio governor candidate loses court challenge

By Julie Carr Smyth - Associated Press

COLUMBUS (AP) — A disqualified candidate for Ohio governor lost his court case Thursday seeking to get back on the ballot.

In a 6-0 ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court said Democrat Jon Heavey failed to prove enough of his signatures had been improperly thrown out.

Heavey sought a reversal of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision to remove him from the ballot. His suit alleged dozens of the signatures he submitted were inaccurately tossed for reasons including illegibility, wrong party or not writing in cursive.

Heavey said in a statement that it appeared other candidates, including Republican Mike DeWine and Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Richard Cordray, were held to a different standard.

He said he and running mate Adam Hudak are not giving up their fight and will be announcing more on their future plans after the Easter weekend.

“The two parties are trying to anoint their candidates so it’s not your vote that counts, it’s who counts the votes,” Heavey said. “But we are not owned and operated like insider politicians, and they know it.”

The court’s ruling Thursday said Heavey failed to show a clear legal right to “certification to the ballot.”

The court conceded that some of the responding boards of elections have conceded the validity of some of the disputed signatures, but the ruling found Heavey still fell 146 signatures short of qualifying for the ballot and had not presented “clear and convincing evidence” that at least that many signatures were erroneously rejected.

The decision left four candidates to fight out the Democratic gubernatorial primary: Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Kucinich, a former congressman; state Sen. Joe Schiavoni; and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill.

Heavey was a last-minute entrant into the race to succeed Republican Gov. John Kasich, who’s term-limited. He is a Cleveland doctor and venture capitalist who sunk $1.5 million of his own money into his campaign.

Justice Pat DeWine, son of Mike DeWine, the gubernatorial candidate and Ohio’s Republican attorney general, recused himself from the case. The action was filed against Husted, DeWine’s running mate and the state’s elections chief.

Heavey had said his campaign used professional, experienced organizers to gather and double-check signatures. Because he knew he and his team were underdogs, he contended, he also more than doubled the minimum number of signatures required and verified them signatures against voter databases.

Associated Press writer Lisa Cornwell contributed to this report from Cincinnati.

By Julie Carr Smyth

Associated Press