Today is the deadline for petitioning signatures for independent presidential candidates for the Ohio fall election. The Libertarian Party of Ohio submitted the papers of their ticket yesterday. The party is pursuing an unusual strategy for this.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ohio Libertarian Party Chairman Robert Bridges stood outside the Secretary of State’s office. He was with volunteers with petition signatures in boxes with Johnson for presidential stickers. Bridges said 7,000 valid petition signatures would be put in, two thousand more than needed to get the names of Gary Johnson and William Weld in the November statewide vote.
“Our presidential and vice-presidential candidates have the most leadership experience of the other two candidates. Two two-term governors in the states of New Mexico and Massachusetts. “
Joshua Eck of the Foreign Secretary’s office says when staff opened the boxes to process the petitions, they were surprised by the name listed as the presidential candidate.
“We received about six boxes of petitions, all for Charlie Earl, to run for Independent President in Ohio.”
Charlie Earl was the 2014 Libertarian Party of Ohio candidate for governorship. His name did not appear on the ballot after a lawsuit and an investigation into problems with his petitions. Earl explains that there is a good reason these presidential motions were tabled in his name rather than Johnson. It all boils down to a federal lawsuit that is still being examined via a new state law involving underage parties.
“If we set Gary and Bill as independents now and the court re-elected the Libertarian Party, they wouldn’t be able to run for the Libertarian Party.”
Earl says Ohio’s so-called “Sore Loser Act,” which prevents candidates from appearing on the ballot more than once in an election season, could be used as a way to prevent this when Johnson and Weld are already on the ballot as independents would stand.
“We thought it best to take the path of least resistance and cover all the basics. In other words, politically we call it CYA. “
Earl says he and Ken Moellman of Kentucky will be available as candidates for the time being. Earl says he hopes the verdict will come sooner rather than later.
“The sooner the court rules, the less scared we are and the less mimosas and Bloody Marys are consumed by libertarians and politicians across Ohio.”
The whole situation is sure to be confusing. So admits the spokesman for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, Aaron Keith Harris. But he says the people who signed these petitions knew what the strategy was.
“I know it’s confusing. In fact, I had to explain it to the guy who changed my tires in Dayton because I got him to sign. He said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s pretty complicated, but I’m voting for Gary.’ “
Harris says the petition by Earl’s name is the one his group has worked with for months. When asked why reporters who went to the Secretary of State’s office when filing the petitions were not told about this strategy, Harris said it was not intended to mislead anyone.
“It wasn’t a secret. With the exception of the company present, Jo, most reporters, if you try to explain more than one thing to them at once, will cross their eyes. So if they haven’t done their homework and haven’t looked at the petition and haven’t gone through the process, it’s up to them. “
Harris draws attention to Ohio law regarding candidate substitution before elections and says this can and has been done before. Eck of the Republican Foreign Secretary’s office says they will be working on certifying these petitions, but he says this is unusual.
“We are not aware of any time in Ohio history when a candidate petitions to run for president and then asked to put someone else’s name on the ballot, and if so, it will take time for our office to check the legality of it in state law. “
Many political experts say this election was the most unusual in modern history. This filing just adds one more reason to the list. A new Quinnipiac poll shows 8% of Ohio likely voters say they plan to vote for Gary Johnson.