COLUMBUS, Ohio — A late entrant into the Ohio governor’s race was preparing a legal challenge Thursday after the state elections chief decided to keep him off the ballot due to a lack of valid signatures.
Democrat Jon Heavey called into question the decision by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. Husted is a candidate for lieutenant governor on the gubernatorial ticket of Attorney General Mike DeWine.
“Ohioans should not have their choices limited just because a few have rigged the system,” Heavey said in a statement issued late Wednesday. “I will challenge the review of these signatures and ask that all campaigns be reviewed again. The math clearly doesn’t add up.”
Sam Rossi, a spokesman for Husted’s office, declined to comment on a challenge the office had not yet seen.
Heavey, a Cleveland physician and venture capitalist, jumped into the crowded governor’s race on Feb. 7, the filing deadline. He invested $1.5 million of his own money in his effort to win the nomination over a field that includes former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
Heavey said his campaign used professional, experienced organizers to gather and double-check signatures.
“Because we knew we were the underdogs, my campaign more than doubled the minimum number of signatures required,” Heavey said. “Then we verified those signatures against voter databases.”
He said hundreds of signatures appear to have been wrongly disqualified because county boards of elections said they were illegible. He said his campaign team reviewed the petitions in question and found the signature and address information readable.
Husted certified statewide candidates on Wednesday. Heavey was among three applicants, all Democrats, kept off the ballot for insufficient signatures.