The Latest: Commission dismisses minor parties’ debate case

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Latest on complaints by third-party governor candidates in Ohio over their exclusion from a series of debates (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

Ohio election regulators have dismissed without discussion two minor parties’ complaints over access to a series of 2018 gubernatorial debates.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Ohio Elections Commission declined to move forward with the Libertarian and Green parties’ allegations that three face-offs between Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray televised this fall constituted improper corporate contributions by the debate sponsors.

Both third-party gubernatorial candidates, present at the hearing, expressed disappointment in the decision.

Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton told The Associated Press that voters today are eager for options and information. Libertarian candidate Travis Windle said he was “surprised, but not surprised” that the commission defended the major-party “duopoly.”

Lawyers for the campaigns and sponsors said the debates were educational and didn’t represent corporate contributions.

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11:30 a.m.

Two third-party candidates for Ohio governor this year are present as state election regulators hear a case alleging they were unfairly excluded from a series of televised debates.

Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton was representing herself in arguments before the Ohio Elections Commission on Thursday.

Libertarian candidate Travis Irvine was looking on as his party’s attorney argues that three face-offs between Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray constituted improper corporate contributions by the debate sponsors.

Third parties allege The City Club of Cleveland, through its “alter-ego” the new Ohio Debate Commission, as well as the University of Dayton and Marietta College, effectively donated DeWine and Cordray valuable exposure unavailable to third-party candidates.

DeWine’s and Cordray’s campaigns join sponsors in opposition. They say no law was violated and seek dismissal.

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5:30 a.m.

The Libertarian Party of Ohio contends it was unfairly excluded from a series of debates in Ohio’s 2018 governor’s race, and is scheduled to air its claims before state election regulators.

The Ohio Elections Commission is hearing the third party’s case Thursday. Commissioners must decide whether three face-offs between Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray, including one organized by the new Ohio Debate Commission, constituted improper corporate contributions by the debate sponsors.

Libertarians allege The City Club of Cleveland, through its “alter-ego” the debate commission, as well as the University of Dayton and Marietta College, violated state election law by effectively donating DeWine and Cordray valuable exposure unavailable to third-party candidates.

The campaigns and sponsors dispute Libertarians’ reading of Ohio law. They’ve asked the commission to dismiss the complaint.

DeWine won the governor’s race.

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This story has been corrected to reflect the Ohio Debate Commission sponsored only one of the gubernatorial debates, not all three

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