According to an interpretation of state law by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, Ohio’s “sore loser” law prevents Donald Trump from filing as an independent candidate in the state’s 2016 general election for president if his Republican primary bid fails.
Earlier this month, a representative for Sec. of State Husted told USA Today that Husted claims that because Trump filed with the Federal Election Commission as a Republican and “voluntarily participated” in Fox News’ Republican presidential debate in Cleveland, he is recognized “as a Republican in the state of Ohio” for the remainder of the 2016 presidential race and can no longer obtain ballot access as an independent in the general election.
However, The Guardian notes that Republican Sec. Husted has already confirmed his support for Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich’s 2016 presidential bid, meaning he may have a vested interest in interpreting his state’s sore loser law as blocking an independent run by Trump.
Most U.S. states have some type of sore loser law that prevents candidates from running as an independent after losing a party primary, but loopholes in the multi-state nature of presidential primaries sometimes prevent those laws from affecting contests at the presidential level.
Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger, an expert on ballot access law, told CNN, “There’s precedents from just about every state that has a sore loser law that they don’t apply to [presidential] primaries. If I were Donald Trump and I knew I was going to be running outside the major presidential parties, I would not file for the Texas primary and South Dakota, and probably the Ohio one, although there’s a flaw in the Ohio law.”
According to Winger, the loophole in the Ohio sore loser law is that candidates who lose the primary under one party are blocked from petitioning for ballot access as an independent but might be allowed to file by obtaining another party’s nomination.
Last week, a Ben Swann Reality Check feature on CBS46 Atlanta, seen below, highlighted the fact that the Republican National Committee has the power to and has indicated that it might remove Donald Trump from future Republican presidential primary debates if he refuses to pledge not to run against the party’s eventual nominee as an independent.
Trump has not yet taken a pledge against running as a third-party candidate but has expressed that he may make such a pledge in the future.
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