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Uncontested primary races could go away under new bill

By MARC KOVAC GateHouse statehouse bureau Published: April 25, 2017 5:45 PM

COLUMBUS -- Congressional districts would skip special elections when primary races for vacancies are uncontested, under legislation that passed the Ohio House Tuesday.

HB 18 passed on a vote of 84-0 and heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

Backers say the bill will save money and effort expended in primary elections when only one person appears on the ballot.

The legislation focuses on uncontested special elections for congressional vacancies and was offered following a primary in southwestern Ohio to replace Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

There was only one Democrat on the ballot for that special election, fewer than 2,000 people voted, and taxpayers had to foot the resulting bill of $340,000-plus.

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"This common sense legislation will prevent such situations from happening in the future," said Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville), primary sponsor of the measure.

The legislation is similar to SB 10, which passed the Ohio Senate last month and which is sponsored by Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), a potential primary opponent of Pelanda in next year's race for secretary of state.

And earlier Tuesday, House Republicans OK'd an amendment to the biennial state budget with similar language.

Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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