DeWine calls for special session to get Biden on Ohio ballot

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced Thursday he would call the GOP-controlled state Legislature into a special session next week to discuss getting both President Biden and former President Trump on the state’s fall ballot.

Democrats have been unable to certify Biden as their nominee in the state — a largely procedural issue where both parties have to certify their presidential candidate with the state ahead of the state’s deadline — because the Democratic National Convention takes place after the Ohio certification deadline.

In this case, presidential nominees must be certified 90 days before the election, but the convention happens after that timeline.

Normally, one of the solutions would be a legislative fix, such as tweaking the certification deadline, but the state House and Senate have deadlocked on passing legislation this month, which would help create a fix to get Biden on the ballot.

DeWine said in a statement that he would be calling lawmakers into session Tuesday to address the issue.

“Ohio is running out of time to get the sitting president of the United States on the ballot this fall. Failing to do so is unacceptable,” DeWine said.

“The purpose of the session will be for the General Assembly to pass legislation ensuring that both major party presidential candidates will be on the Ohio ballot in November, as well as legislation that would prohibit campaign spending by foreign nationals,” he explained.

Ohio Republicans in the General Assembly took different paths toward trying to get Biden on the ballot. Senate Republicans took an existing childcare campaign fund bill to include a one-time legislative fix that would change the timeline in which Democrats needed to certify their candidate from 90 days to 74 days to accommodate the Democrats’ convention.

But the bill also included another provision that would ban foreign nationals from contributing money to ballot campaign initiatives, which drew opposition from Democrats. Democrats believe Republicans were upset after the party was able to scuttle a special election in August that defeated a ballot measure at the center of an abortion rights fight and for successfully passing an abortion rights measure in November.

Republicans have previously targeted Swiss donor Hansjorg Wyss for donating to groups that ultimately aided Democrats in those two elections.

State House Republicans, instead, had been pursuing a clean bill that would have permanently changed the certification deadline from 90 days before the election to 74 days.

While state Senate Republicans passed their solution, House Republicans didn’t take it up for a vote. The House informally passed its legislative fix, but lawmakers were unable to proceed until soon thereafter.

Both parties have underscored that Biden would be on the ballot in November, though the path forward became more uncertain. Democrats had been mulling potential court action or another workaround fix with the convention.

DeWine’s announcement suggests neither of those options should be considered, though his push to pass the Senate’s proposal is likely to anger Democrats. DeWine’s move was applauded by the Senate GOP caucus.

“We agree with the Governor. It is time to protect Ohio’s elections by outlawing foreign campaign contributions, while at the same time fixing the Democratic Party’s error that kept Joe Biden off the November ballot. We encourage the Speaker and Minority Leader to allow a vote on House Bill 114 which does both,” said John Fortney, a spokesperson for state Senate President Matt Huffman (R), in a statement.

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