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Weeks of wrangling produce zilch



Published: Wed, October 25, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The woman dismissed her complaint but said she was right.

By D.A. WILKINSON

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- Weeks of legal wrangling and charges of politicking produced no evidence that U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland had done anything wrong.

"That's 100 percent correct," Keith Dailey, Strickland's campaign spokesman, said Wednesday. "We haven't been calling it frivolous for nothing."

And Strickland's own vote as a citizen will stand in the November election.

That's the outcome of a challenge brought by a supporter of his gubernatorial opponent, Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell -- who oversees elections.

Jacquelyn Sue Long of East Liverpool, who filed the complaint with the Columbiana County Board of Elections, asked that her complaint be dismissed. It took the board about a minute to vote unanimously to approve her request and adjourn without comment.

Donald J. McTigue, Strickland's lawyer, said, "This matter is over."

Nick Barborak, the assistant county prosecutor who advises the board of elections, said the period to challenge Strickland's actual vote is past.

Strickland cast an absentee ballot at the board of elections in Lisbon, just a few blocks from the office-residence in North Precinct where he has been registered and voted for three years.

Long is a Democrat, but a Blackwell supporter. Her son, Larry Long, a Blackwell volunteer, released a statement from his mother during the meeting that said she was dropping the challenge for a lack of money and because of "intimidating threats and innuendo" from unspecified people. She also complained that the Democratic members of the elections board "decided to tow the party line."

When the complaint was filed, Barborak and county elections officials said it would up to Mrs. Long to prove her case.

Congressmen do not have to live in their district but candidates do have to be registered voters. If there was a problem with Strickland's residency that affected his right to vote, they said Strickland could easily register in Columbus, where he has a condo.

The 7th District Court of Appeals had blocked an elections board hearing into Strickland's residency earlier this week. Barborak separately told the elections board not to have the second hearing.

Barborak said the board had only a 10-day period to hear Long's complaint. Blackwell's office canceled the first hearing and then scheduled the second.

Dailey said the most recent poll shows Strickland ahead by 54 percent to 34 percent.

The appeals court was to hear arguments next week on a state lawsuit Strickland filed in response Long's complaint. McTigue said it's safe to assume that the hearing would not be held. Strickland filed a similar federal lawsuit, which had not been set for a hearing. McTigue said it make take some time to officially dismiss the two lawsuits.

Mrs. Long said in the statement that, "No one from the Blackwell campaign or my son put me up to this."

Larry Long said his mother had spent money to hire a local lawyer and a Pittsburgh lawyer not licensed to practice law in Ohio. The lawyer's lack of a license became an issue.

Mrs. Long wrote, "I am just sorry that I do not have 12 million dollars and a fleet of lawyers at my disposal; because I know what I did is the right thing."

wilkinson@vindy.com




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