General Assembly Republicans on Wednesday demonstrated once again they can act quickly — when their self-interests are threatened. They passed, and Republican Gov. John Kasich immediately signed, a bill making it harder for candidates from the Libertarian, Green and other third parties to get on Ohio’s ballot. Of course, Republicans said Amended Substitute Senate Bill 193 simply filled a gap in Ohio law. But if that were so, Ohio Libertarians, who have sued to block the new law, would hardly be as vexed as they are. What’s actually at issue isn’t up-to-date law books but splits among Republicans that could threaten Kasich’s 2014 re-election. Much of the anti-Kasich huffing and puffing on the GOP’s right is just that: hot air. Still, a strong statewide showing by a third party or an independent could be significant — and some in the GOP fear that a Libertarian on the November ballot would take votes from Kasich.
Federal courts ruled within the last decade that then-Ohio law made it too hard for third parties to get on the ballot. The General Assembly never passed a new law, so court orders formed Ohio’s framework for third parties.
On Wednesday, after years of inaction, Republicans decided they had to replace that framework now, although Libertarians (and other third parties) said the status quo was workable — and that changing it so close to 2014’s election was unfair.
Indeed, it is unfair. (And nine House Republicans voted against Senate Bill 193, including Reps. Matt Lynch of Chagrin Falls and Kristina Roegner of Hudson.)