State lawmaker drafts bill to eliminate unnecessary elections

Legislation introduced this week could eliminate unnecessary elections, such as the Sept. 13 special primary where only one person is on the ballot to become the Democrat nominee in November’s 8th Congressional District contest.

That special primary election will cost taxpayers $500,000 after the previous candidate, Corey Foister, dropped out.

“Our county boards of elections work hard to stretch every taxpayer dollar as far as it will go to ensure efficient, fair elections,” said Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson, who introduced the legislation. “Forcing them to hold uncontested primary elections is a clear waste of time and taxpayer resources.”

Because just one vote will win the special primary — which appears to have already been cast in Clark County via a military ballot — LaRose drafted Senate Bill 347, which would change the law that triggers a primary election based on the number of candidates who are certified.

The proposed bill would remove the requirement to hold a primary when only one candidate is certified, and gives the Secretary of State the authority to declare that lone candidate the party’s nominee.

Foister’s decision to leave the race was prompted by a job opportunity out of state. Had he waited an additional 18 days to withdraw, the Democratic Party would have been able to appoint a replacement candidate. Instead, state law requires that a special election be held, even though Steven Fought — the new candidate — will be the only name on the ballot.

Fought said he was surprised to learn he was the only person to file petitions for the race after Foister dropped out.

“I looked at the vacancy in this district and thought the people deserved a choice,” Fought said.

The election will almost certainly reveal what is already known — that Fought will be opposing Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, in the November election.

Davidson won the June 7 special election, which saw less than 6 percent voter turnout, with 76.7 percent of the vote.

That special election also cost the state more than $500,000.

Fought may cruise to victory in the Democratic primary, but he faces a much more difficult challenge on Nov. 8. The 8th district, which includes Butler, Preble, Darke, Miami, Clark and a portion of Mercer counties, is one of the most GOP-friendly districts in Ohio.

But this is not a normal election year, Fought noted.

“Politics are in turmoil in the United States. People have lost faith in institutions, particularly in Congress, for good reason,” he said. “I’m under no illusions, but this is a race where I can have the most impact and force people to think about both sides of the issues and see what happens. I’m an unconventional candidate in an unconventional year.”

Secretary of State Jon Husted, who called this uncontested special primary election "a waste of money," previously told this news outlet that his staff looked for a way out of holding an election to name a replacement candidate for the Nov. 8 congressional race, but they were unsuccessful.

Senate Bill 347 will soon be referred to a committee for discussion and debate.

This article contains additional reporting by staff writer Jim Otte.

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