The race for Ohio’s 94th District House of Representatives seat between Tanya Conrath, the Democratic candidate on the ballot, and Republican incumbent Jay Edwards has been contentious since August.
On Aug. 14, Conrath said she was approached by the Athens County Democratic Party and was asked to be the replacement candidate for Rhyan Goodman, the former Democratic candidate and Ohio University student who dropped out of the race on Aug. 2.
According to a previous Post report, during a regularly scheduled Athens County Board of Elections meeting on Aug. 17, the Board’s two Democratic members voted in favor of putting Conrath on the November ballot and the two Republican members voted against it.
Five days later on Aug. 22, a special meeting of the Board was scheduled to reconsider the vote. The two Republican members of the Board did not attend, which meant the Board did not reach a quorum and could not revote.
The two Republican members of the Board, Aundrea Carpenter-Colvin and Gary Van Meter did not respond to requests for comment from The Post.
To break the tie vote, the issue was submitted to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, whose decision would break the tie.
According to a previous Post report, LaRose denied Conrath’s application, stating Goodman had not yet been verified as a candidate prior to his withdrawal, therefore, Conrath could not serve as a replacement.
LaRose did not respond to requests for comment from The Post.
Nukhet Sandal, an OU associate professor of political science, said Goodman had not been certified as a candidate before he dropped from the race because Ohio’s legislative primary elections were delayed due to redistricting proposals.
"There are specific dates in the state law and those dates are contingent on the primaries taking place on predetermined dates. When the primary is delayed due to redistricting, those dates … become irrelevant,” Sandal said. “These deadlines, those dates, weren’t adjusted for the delay in primaries, and if you stick to those deadlines, then it would be impossible for the Democratic Party to produce a replacement candidate. That does interfere with free and fair, competitive elections.”
After LaRose decided to exclude Conrath from the ballot, Conrath filed a writ of mandamus with the Ohio Supreme Court. Conrath said a writ of mandamus is used in situations to compel the government to act in accordance with its duties.
In the Ohio Supreme Court’s slip opinion, it said Conrath had the legal right to be nominated and placed on the ballot to replace Goodman.
“We conclude that Secretary LaRose and two members of the Athens County Board of Elections, which is the board of elections for the most populous county in the 94th House District, acted in clear disregard of their legal duties to certify Conrath’s name to the November 2022 Ohio general-election ballot as the Democratic Party’s nominee for state representative,” the slip opinion stated.
With Conrath’s addition to the November ballot, Athens County voters will now have a choice between her and the incumbent, Edwards.
Edwards did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the upcoming election from The Post.
According to Conrath’s official campaign website, her focus is on jobs, schools, small businesses, living wages, safe communities, clean air, reliable bridges and Wi-Fi access.
“We send our tax dollars to Columbus and instead of getting a return on our investment, we get government preaching and overreach. If you are as fed up as I am, then I’m asking you to vote and tell all your friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors to vote with us,” Conrath said in a quote on her website.
Edwards’ official campaign website states his priorities as the 94th District’s representative are to protect the economy through sustainable and local jobs, accessible and fair education, safety from illegal substances, second amendment rights, etc.
Abe Alassaf, a resident of Millfield in Athens County, said he would be voting for Jay Edwards in the upcoming election.
“I think it will be close. I think Tanya Conrath is a formidable candidate,” Alassaf said. “But I think Jay will win.”
Sandal said she does not expect the dispute over Conrath being added to the ballot to affect the results of the election.
Conrath said she believes the entirety of the ballot situation was a stall tactic used by Republicans.
“I think the decision by the Supreme Court is a win for democracy. All of these efforts to keep me off, it’s just another attempt to chip away at democracy, to not give voters a choice in our area, to use power and money to interfere with what should be voters’ freedom to choose their representatives,” Conrath said. “We need to make sure we elect people who care about democracy and care about upholding the rule of law … People want to have a representative that has integrity and our region deserves to have a representative with integrity.”