The division in the Ohio Republican Party, exacerbated by Gov. John Kasich’s move to expand Medicaid, is threatening passage of a controversial bill that would set new guidelines for minor political parties seeking to field candidates in the 2014 election. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, includes a provision to give parties more time to submit initial organizing petitions and makes it easier for them to qualify for the ballot in future elections. The bill would provide the first changes to Ohio law since a a 2006 court ruling said the state made it too hard for parties to get on the ballot. Ohio has operated under directives from the secretary of state since then. The parties affected by the bill, especially the Libertarian, Green and Constitution parties, oppose the Seitz bill. They say it’s too close to the 2014 election and other requirements are still too hard for them to meet and could limit their ability to raise money. Libertarians call it the “John Kasich Re-election Protection Act,” saying Republicans are trying to keep them from winning the votes of conservatives who are disillusioned with Kasich.
On Tuesday, at least two House Republicans, Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, and Rep. John Adams, R-Sidney, appeared to be leaning against voting for the bill. Both lawmakers opposed Kasich’s Medicaid expansion move. But the House Oversight Committee likely needs the votes of at least one of them to pass the bill out of committee and take it before the full House.
Republican leadership in the House is facing a tight deadline on the bill, which passed the Senate this month.
Supporters, including Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, are trying to rush it through the Ohio House, back to the Senate for approval of any amendments and to the governor’s desk by Thursday, which is the end of the month. That way, the law could take effect by the end of January, in time for its provisions to apply to candidates filing for the 2014 gubernatorial election.