Commission dismisses minor parties’ debate case

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio election regulators have dismissed without discussion two minor parties’ complaints over access to a series of 2018 gubernatorial debates.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Ohio Elections Commission declined to move forward with the Libertarian and Green parties’ allegations that three face-offs between Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray televised this fall constituted improper corporate contributions by the debate sponsors.

Both third-party gubernatorial candidates, present at the hearing, expressed disappointment in the decision.

Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton told The Associated Press that voters today are eager for options and information. Libertarian candidate Travis Windle said he was “surprised, but not surprised” that the commission defended the major-party “duopoly.”

Lawyers for the campaigns and sponsors said the debates were educational and didn’t represent corporate contributions.

Third parties allege The City Club of Cleveland, through its “alter-ego” the new Ohio Debate Commission, as well as the University of Dayton and Marietta College, effectively donated DeWine and Cordray valuable exposure unavailable to third-party candidates.

DeWine’s and Cordray’s campaigns joined sponsors in opposition. They say no law was violated and soughtdismissal.

DeWine won the governor’s race.