GOP, Dems seeking statewide office escape challenges

By MARC KOVAC @ohiocapitalblog C-N Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- Incumbent Republicans and most of the endorsed Democrats seeking statewide office escaped primary challenges, submitting required paperwork as expected on Wednesday's filing deadline.

The GOP ticket -- Gov. John Kasich, Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Auditor Dave Yost and Treasurer Josh Mandel -- were the lone Republicans who filed for the primary.

That also was the case for Democratic challengers, Sen. Nina Turner (running for secretary of state), former Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper (attorney general), state Rep. John Carney (auditor) and state Rep. Connie Pillich (treasurer).

Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald and his running made, Dayton-area attorney Sharen Neuhardt, will face Democratic challengers Larry Ealy and Ken Gray in the primary, pending review of petition signatures.

Ealy and Gray did not make public announcements about their intentions before submitting their paperwork Wednesday, and FitzGerald already has the backing of the Ohio Democratic Party.

Absent among Wednesday's filings was Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, who flirted with a potential run but opted late last week not to challenge FitzGerald.

No representatives of the Tea Party or discontented conservatives filed to face Kasich in May, either.

Two seated Ohio Supreme Court justices, Judi French and Sharon Kennedy, filed as Republicans for the May primary. They will be challenged in November by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell and state Rep. Tom Letson, D-Warren, respectively.

Libertarian candidates took advantage of a court order allowing them onto the primary ballot despite recent Republican-backed election law changes that sought to block them.

They offered a full slate for statewide posts, topped by Charlie Earl and his running mate Sherry Clark, who are running for the governor's office. Earl, a College of Wooster graduate and a former state lawmaker who represented a northwest Ohio district, ran as the Libertarian candidate for secretary of state in 2010.

Also on the Libertarian ticket are Steven Linnabary (running for attorney general), Aaron Keith Harris (secretary of state), Robert Coogan (auditor) and Marc Allan Feldman (treasurer).

Statewide candidates had until 4 p.m. Wednesday to submit petitions to the secretary of state's office in order to qualify for the May 6 primary.

Republicans and Democrats had to gather 1,000 valid signatures from Ohio voters. Minor party candidates had to collect 500, while independent candidates had to collect 5,000.

County elections officials will review signatures submitted by candidates in coming days to ensure enough valid names were submitted to qualify for the ballot.

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