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Kovoor files federal suit to get on ballot

Has been rejected by Ohio’s Supreme Court, state officials

Having had appeals to get on the ballot as a Trumbull County Common Pleas Court judge rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio secretary of state, Republican Sarah Thomas Kovoor filed in a federal court for injunctive relief to be a candidate.

In a Wednesday lawsuit, Kovoor wrote that Frank LaRose, secretary of state, violated her rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments by denying her candidacy.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled against Kovoor on Friday, saying she wasn’t eligible to run because her candidacy would violate a state law commonly called the “sore loser provision.”

Kovoor unsuccessfully ran May 2 for the Republican nominee for a seat on the 11th District Court of Appeals.

Kovoor, of Howland, was appointed Aug. 14 by the county Republican Party’s central committee as its nominee for the position vacated July 31 by Democrat Peter J. Kontos.

Cynthia Westcott Rice of Brookfield, the Democratic nominee and an 11th District Court of Appeals judge, is the only candidate running for the open common pleas court seat on the Nov. 8 ballot.

In its decision, the Ohio Supreme Court pointed to Ohio Revised Code Section 3513.04, which states: “No person who seeks party nomination for an office or position at a primary election by declaration of candidacy … shall be permitted to become a candidate by nominating petition … by declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate or by filling a vacancy under section 3531.31 of the Revised Code at the following general election for any office.”

The only exceptions are for boards of education, the governing board of an educational service center or township trustee.

In his Aug. 31 decision, breaking a county board of elections tie on Kovoor’s candidacy, LaRose, a Republican, sided with the two Democrats on the board that she was ineligible cause of the same law.

In her lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court’s Southern Division, Kovoor said the 1st Amendment violation is not permitting the Trumbull County Republican Party to “select candidates for election to public office.”

The 14th Amendment issue, according to Kovoor’s lawsuit, is the refusal to put her on the ballot is a violation of the equal protection clause.

Kovoor said the ORC section violates federal law and both of the amendments.

“The state can have no legitimate interest in substituting a true election offering a choice of candidates” with “a sham election where an otherwise qualified candidate is disqualified by the application of ORC 3513.04,” Kovoor wrote in the lawsuit.

She also contends that lawsuits she’s filed “against powerful members of political parties,” specifically fellow Republicans, made her an enemy of some of those people who worked to keep her off the ballot.

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