Ohio Secretary of State Husted plans to treat Donald Trump unfairly

Ohio Secretary of State John Husted announced earlier today that, should Donald Trump decide to launch an independent bid for president, his name would not appear on the Ohio ballot next November.

Donald Trump, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Donald Trump, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Trump has repeatedly said that he will not launch an independent bid as long as the Republican Party treats him “fairly,” which he seems to have defined as unconditional adoration. Reports that Republican party leaders are already meeting to game out what a brokered convention could look like, along with networks of conservative donors funding an organization founded for the specific purpose of taking Trump down (it’s even named Trump Card LLC), suggest that the GOP has little intention of satisfying Trump’s demands.

Husted cited a 1981 law barring candidates who are affiliated with a political party from appearing without partisan affiliation on a statewide ballot. Trump officially filed for Ohio’s Republican primary on Friday, seemingly triggering the law. However, as Ballot Access News pointed out in the wake of Husted’s announcement, the law Husted is citing in order to keep Trump off the ballot has been enforced selectively at best. For starters, white nationalist and all around crazy person Lyndon LaRouche appeared on the state’s general election ballot in 1984, 1988 and 1992 as an independent despite having filed for the Democratic nomination all three of those years.

In other words, Ohio is planning on being less accommodating to Trump, who only walks up to the line of being a fascist white supremacist, than it was for one of our nation’s most well-known fascist white supremacists. If Trump is looking for evidence that he’s being treated unfairly, there it is.

Going beyond that, however, the Ohio Supreme Court also ruled earlier this year that candidates who had previously run (in one case successfully) as Democrats — and hadn’t officially resigned — could not be kept from appearing on the ballot as independents in 2015. So Trump only needs to go back one year, instead of 24, to find examples of ex-partisans appearing on the general election ballot as independents.

Finally, Ohio’s law barring partisan candidates from mounting independent bids may itself be unconstitutional. In a 1983 ruling, the Supreme Court held that Ohio had unconstitutionally prevented failed Republican primary candidate John Anderson from appearing on the general election ballot by setting an earlier filing deadline for independent candidates. Ohio State University law professor Dan Tokaji suggested that, should Trump sue Ohio to get on the ballot, that ruling could give him a legitimate case.

On top of Trump’s already-strong case that the Republican Party, as a whole, has little intention of treating him “fairly” between now and the convention.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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