[Columbus, December 20] The nominating committee of five Libertarian activists whose petitions landed Gov. Gary Johnson on the Ohio ballot in November filed suit in the Ohio Supreme Court Monday, challenging the refusal of Secretary of State Jon Husted to extend to them recognition as a political party entitled to ballot access. Johnson polled 3.17% of the vote for president, and the committee claims that under Ohio law, that makes them a political party.
The suit asserts that “In his responsive letter, [Husted] cited no legal authority for his refusal, no statutory language, no regulations, and no history.” It asks that the court require the secretary to recognize the committee as a party and pay the costs of the action.
On November 30. the committee formally requested, in writing, recognition as a political party in accordance with Ohio Revised Code section 3517.01(A)(1). On December 16, Sec. Husted's office sent them a letter stating that “the presence of independent joint-candidates for president and vice-president, Gary Johnson and William Weld, is not sufficient to establish a minor political party.”
The letter, signed by Jack L. Christopher, Sec. Husted's general counsel, claimed that the Libertarian Party of Ohio and its attorney had previously agreed that the presence of Johnson and Weld on the ballot would not qualify the LPO as a party. But Christopher's comments misrepresent the committee's claim. The letter refers to statements made in a different suit by a different claimant, the LPO, and cites a different law than the ones the committee cites in its claim.
While all five members of the nominating committee are also members of the LPO's Central Committee and have long track records of party activism, the nominating committee is not the LPO. It is a separate group that began the process of putting a candidate on the ballot without connection to the LPO.
“Once again, the Republicans who control state government are risking taxpayers’ dollars to limit their voting choice,” said Scott Pettigrew, a member of the nominating committee and Chair of the LPO Executive Committee. “We're asking the court to compel Sec. Husted to do his job, no more and no less.”