Two Libertarian candidates for statewide office in Ohio have been tossed from the May primary ballot by the state elections chief.
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted says today that he relied on the recommendations of hearing officer Bradley Smith, a former federal elections commissioner. Ohio Republican Chairman Matthew Borges recently told reporters the party played a role in protests filed against gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary. Lawyers challenging Earl told Smith in hearings this week that Democrats helped fund and carry out his signature-gathering effort. Under Ohio law, petition circulators must be neutral or affiliated with a candidates' party. Earl's attorney has called the challenge an extension of Republican efforts to exclude third parties from Ohio's ballot. Earl tells Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler that if he doesn't feel he has recourse, he won't fight the decision. Earl stood to draw votes from Republican Gov. John Kasich as the governor faces a likely challenge from Democrat Ed FitzGerald this fall.