Strickland asks court to stop hearing
Strickland pays city income taxes in Columbus, but said he' still a resident of Lisbon.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
and D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS
LISBON -- U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland went to the 7th District Court of Appeals late Friday to block a Tuesday board of elections hearing on his residency.
Earlier Friday, the Columbiana County Board of Elections set a hearing on the gubernatorial candidate's residency complaint for 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. George Church Hall.
Democrat Jacquelyn Sue Long of East Liverpool, a supporter of Strickland's opponent, Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell, has challenged Strickland's residency. Strickland uses 320 N. Market St., Lisbon, as his residence, but owns a condominium in Columbus that Long contends is Strickland's primary residence.
Keith Dailey, Strickland's campaign spokesman, said the case was filed simply to stop the hearing because the 10-day period in which the board was to hear the complaint has now expired. Dailey said that would make the hearing illegal.
Dailey said he did not know if the court had set a time to hear Strickland's request, but said he assumes the hearing would be on Monday.
Strickland cast his vote Friday -- taking advantage of the state's new no-fault absentee voting -- at the Columbiana County Board of Elections, and has said he would would sue Blackwell, of Cincinnati, who is secretary of state.
Strickland, a Lisbon Democrat, said he wasn't asked to vote on a provisional basis. Those whose residency is in question or move within 10 days of the Nov. 7 election are required to cast a provisional ballot so elections board officials can determine where they live.
Strickland has voted in Lisbon six times.
"I pay monthly rent, utility bills, I receive mail there, and I shovel snow in Columbiana County," Strickland said.
From 2003 to 2005, Strickland and his wife, Frances, listed the Columbus address on their federal income tax returns.
Strickland said he has the Columbus home so he can travel by air easily between Washington, D.C., and his 12-county 6th Congressional District. The district includes Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County and takes in about 350 miles down the state's eastern and southern borders.
On Oct. 12, the county board of elections split on four votes along party lines on Strickland's residency issue.
Blackwell's office handling it
The matter was sent to the secretary of state's office, which returned it to the elections board to resolve at a hearing. Monte Lobb, assistant secretary of state, is handling the matter for the office because of Blackwell's involvement in the gubernatorial race.
The deadline to file candidate challenges was in February so it would take a court decision to invalidate Strickland's residency issue if the elections board rules in Long's favor, a secretary of state spokesman said.
Strickland said it isn't a legitimate complaint and the secretary of state's office should have no involvement in this issue.
"It shows Mr. Blackwell's tendency to not separate his government responsibilities from his politics," he said. "I really resent this. I find it reprehensible."
Strickland enjoys a double-digit lead over Blackwell in most polls. The election is Nov. 7.
Strickland acknowledges he pays city income taxes in Columbus, but said it's acceptable to pay Columbus income taxes and still be a resident of Lisbon.
"There are a lot of questions about Ted Strickland," said Carlo LoParo, Blackwell's campaign spokesman. "He says he lives in Lisbon, but pays income tax in Columbus. He has to pick one."
In a Thursday editorial, USA Today wrote that the effort to disqualify Strickland "shows the kind of conflicts of interest that can arise when the job of [secretary of state] is politicized."