Ohio Supreme Court throws out Melanie Leneghan’s lawsuit challenging Troy Balderson’s 12th District victory
COLUMBUS, Ohio—More than 3 ½ months after Troy Balderson was deemed the winner of the Republican primary for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, the Ohio Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit from a rival candidate challenging his victory.
Delaware County Republican Melanie Leneghan, who lost the May 8 primary to Balderson by 653 votes, claimed that because ballot boxes in 16 Muskingum County precincts were prematurely opened ahead of a recount, the Supreme Court should order those votes not counted (which would result in her beating Balderson), or outright declare her the winner.
But in a 6-1 ruling, the Supreme Court decided that even though an “election irregularity occurred” when elections officials opened the ballot boxes too early, Leneghan offered no evidence that any vote totals were changed as a result.
Leneghan’s assertion that Balderson’s margin of victory in Muskingum County, his home county, was suspiciously high, also wasn’t by itself enough evidence for the court to overturn the primary results.
Balderson, a state senator from Zanesville, went on to narrowly win the Aug. 7 special election over Democrat Danny O’Connor for the Central Ohio district, which has been vacant since Republican Pat Tiberi stepped down in January. Balderson is likely to be officially named the winner of the special election when the vote count is certified on Friday.
The one justice to dissent from the court’s majority opinion, Terrence O’Donnell, also stated that he opposes Leneghan’s demands, but for a different reason. Leneghan, he wrote, “failed to establish a clear legal right” to have the Muskingum ballots set aside at all.
Leneghan, a Liberty Township trustee, didn’t immediately return a phone call Thursday seeking comment.