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Complaint filed over ‘wife swap’

Tom Jackson • Feb 26, 2014 at 1:30 PM

State Rep. Rex Damschroder’s plan to seek re-election by running his wife, Rhonda, as a “placeholder” candidate hit a snag Tuesday.

A protest filed with the Sandusky County Board of Elections cotends her candidacy should be tossed out. The election board has scheduled a hearing for 3:30 p.m. March 5 at the election board office to consider the protest.

Clyde resident John Brewer, 63, the retired editor of the “Clyde Enterprise,” filed the protest Tuesday morning.    Brewer contends Mrs. Damschroder’s declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate is a “false petition” and possibly fraudulent because she has no intention of running for office, but intends to resign if she wins the GOP primary. That would allow Republican officials to appoint Rep. Damschroder as a replacement candidate.

Rhonda Damschroder faces two other Republican write-in candidates for the House District 88 race, which will pick a lawmaker to represent Sandusky County and part of Seneca County. The other Republican hopefuls are Richard Geyer and William Reineke Jr. A Democratic write-in candidate, William “Bill” Young, also has filed.

Election board members who are scheduled to meet to consider the protest are Christopher Knight, Justin Smith, Sandra Wise and Thomas Younker.

Younker, the chairman, is a Democrat. Wise also is a Democrat, while Knight and Smith are Republicans.

Smith is the chairman of the Sandusky County Republican Party and would be asked to appoint Rep. Damschroder as the candidate if Mrs. Damschroder stepped down as a candidate. Brewer said Smith already has said he supports that plan and should recuse himself from the hearing.

Smith couldn’t be reached by telephone — his voicemail message said his mailbox was full — but in a text message Smith said he expects to take part in next week’s hearing.

“I really have nothing to say. I’m going to do my job as a board of elections member” he wrote.

Rep. Damschroder and his wife did not immediately return calls to the lawmaker’s cell phone and office for comment.

Brewer said if Rhonda Damschroder did resign as a candidate, the Republican Party would be required to consider other candidates besides Rep. Damschroder.

“The party must advertise the position,” he said.

At next week’s meeting, Brewer will get the chance to present his complaint to the board, and Rhonda Damschroder will have the chance to make her case, said assistant prosecutor Norma Solze. Each side can bring a lawyer, if it wants, he said.

“Our role is strictly to advise the board of elections” he said.

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