By BRIAN BOHNERT
for the courier
FREMONT — Sandusky County Board of Elections voted unanimously Wednesday to dismiss a petition against Rhonda Damschroder’s write-in candidacy for the 88th District seat in the Ohio House.
John Brewer, a Clyde resident, submitted a written objection to the candidacy late last month, alleging election falsification on the part of Mrs. Damschroder. However, his presence during Wednesday’s hearing was short-lived as he walked out after learning the candidate was not in attendance.
Rhonda Damschroder was instead represented by Columbus-based attorney Donald C. Brey, and her husband, 88th District Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont.
“If Mrs. Damschroder doesn’t respect the 90,000 men, women, children and seniors that live in this district enough to show up here and respond to this, then my presence here is moot,” Brewer said moments before walking out of the packed boardroom.
Rhonda Damschroder decided to serve as a placeholder for her husband in the May primary election after Rex officially withdrew his candidacy for re-election on Feb. 12 because he failed to sign his petition. This “oversight,” as he called it, voided his candidacy and made him ineligible to enter the race as a write-in.
If she wins the primary, Rhonda plans to withdraw from the race, which would allow the Republican chairs of both Sandusky and Seneca counties to place Rex on the ballot for the November general election.
In Brewer’s objection, he said the Damschroders’ substitution strategy goes against the Ohio Revised Code section pertaining to write-in candidates. He said the code makes no mention of allowing a placeholder.
In addition, Brewer said Rhonda committed election fraud by falsifying her petition for candidacy. By stating she had “no intention of running in the November election nor serving even one day in office,” he alleged the candidate committed a fifth-degree felony.
Brey said Rhonda’s declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate contained no false statements and Brewer’s objection did not reference any cases or statutes forbidding placeholders.
“We’ve had placeholder candidacies in Ohio for years, for decades even,” he said. “Republicans do it; Democrats do it; other folks do it; and, what Mr. Damschroder did is he told the voters exactly what his intentions were …”
In a statement read following the meeting, Rex Damschroder said he commended the elections board on the dismissal of the protest, and said Brewer’s objection had no legal merit and was brought about by a member of the “opposing political party.”
Brewer later said he plans to appeal the board’s decision.
Mrs. Damschroder will face competition in the May 6 primary. Bill Reineke Jr., partner in the Reineke Family Dealerships, and Ballville Township Trustee Richard Geyer have filed as write-in candidates for the Republican nomination. Retired Green Springs school teacher Bill Young has filed as a write-in candidate for the Democratic nomination.
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