Libertarians file complaint over three Ohio governor debates

The Libertarian Party of Ohio on Monday filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission over being excluded from three gubernatorial debates, including the first one held last week at the University of Dayton between Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine.

The 23-page complaint alleges that the university and the DeWine and Cordray campaigns excluded other qualified gubernatorial candidates from planning and participating in the debate.

“No pre-existing objective criteria — other than the participants being Richard Cordray and Mike DeWine — were published, documented or in any way made available to the public, the press, the two minor political parties, or the two minor political parties’ qualified gubernatorial candidates,” the complaint says.

Libertarian Party of Ohio nominee Travis Irvine and Ohio Green Party nominee Constance Gadell Newton will also appear on the statewide ballot as candidates for governor.

Two other debates between Cordray and DeWine are planned for Oct. 1 at Marietta College and Oct. 7 at Cleveland State University.

Related: Libertarians threaten legal action to get into governor debates

The Libertarian Party’s complaint alleges that hosting the September 19 debate amounted to an illegal campaign contribution to DeWine and Cordray from UD.

“As the university has not had time to review the complaint, we have no comment at this time,” UD spokeswoman Cilla Shindell said in an email.

We have reached out to the DeWine and Cordray campaigns for a response.

A university spokesperson said the week before the debate that it had set a 10-percent polling requirement for candidates to participate in the debate. The Libertarian complaint said there is no evidence they have seen that the criteria was set before the debate was announced and said that was improper.

Cox Media Group Ohio, which owns this newspaper and WHIO radio and TV stations, was the media sponsor of the Dayton debate but was not included in the Libertarian Party complaint. Instead, it names the Cordray and DeWine campaigns, the candidates and UD as defendants.

The Ohio Elections Commission is expected to give the complaint a preliminary review at its Nov. 1 meeting.

Related: Watch the full governor debate between Cordray and DeWine

About the Author