COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request from a Libertarian candidate seeking to force the state's elections chief to place his name on primary ballots.
Last month, Secretary of State Jon Husted disqualified attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary from the May 6 ballot. His decision came after Linnabary's nominating petitions were successfully challenged on two grounds: that a signature gatherer failed to comply with Ohio law requiring that he be either Libertarian or politically independent and that he disclose his employer.
Linnabary's attorneys sought to have state's Supreme Court compel Husted to certify his candidacy, arguing that the man who protested Linnabary's petitions lacked standing to do so. They also said state law does not require certain petition circulators to disclose employment because they are independent contractors.
Attorneys for the state had told the justices that among other arguments, Linnabary's petition circulators should have revealed their employment, regardless of whether they are "employees" or "independent contractors."
"This is a simple case about a candidate who did not follow the law — a law that is plain in its meaning, that is easy to comply with, and that serves an important purpose," attorneys for the state wrote in a court filing last month.
The high court said in its Thursday ruling that Husted reasonably interpreted Ohio law.
Linnabary's attorney, Mark Kanfantaris, said he was disappointed with the decision. He said it conflicted with previous state rulings allowing circulators to submit signatures without declaring an employer.
"This deprives Ohio voters of choice and this is neither right nor fair," Kanfantaris said.
Separately, the Libertarian Party of Ohio is appealing a federal judge's order in an effort to get its gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Earl, on the May ballot.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has said the court will take quick action on the party's overall request to allow Earl to appear on primary ballots. He also was disqualified on the grounds that two of his petitioners failed to properly disclose their employers.
Earl's candidacy would have the potential to draw votes from Republican Gov. John Kasich, who likely will face Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive.