Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose declares run for secretary of state

Declaring that he wants more people to vote and elections to be more competitive, Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose today night declared his candidacy for secretary of state.

LaRose, a Republican from Hudson, was the second candidate to announce for the office in less than 12 hours. Rep. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, launched her candidacy in the morning.

Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marysville, already was running.

LaRose, 38, said he’s had a passion for elections since serving in an Army Airborne unit and in the Special Forces in Iraq and Kosovo.

“I’ve been to places where people didn’t have the right to vote or were getting to vote for the first time,” he said, describing voter turnouts of 70 percent in Iraq despite threats of violence against voters.

LaRose said that from the start of his first term in 2011, he has been part of efforts to change the way legislative districts are drawn. He now is supporting legislation to do something similar with congressional districts.

The point, he said, is to avoid districts that are so partisan that races are only competitive during primary season.

That process yields lawmakers on the extremes, trying to placate the most energized parts of their base, LaRose said. Candidates should instead be encouraged to attract as broad a swath of voters as possible, he said.

“I want to be part of a party that wins elections because we work harder, have better candidates and we have better ideas,” LaRose said.

If he were to become secretary of state, LaRose said he would dedicate himself to a full term.

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel broker a similar pledge in 2012 when he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate a year after taking office. LaRose said he couldn’t adequately do the work of secretary of state if he were running for another office.

Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have claimed that there has been massive, in-person voter fraud in the United States, but they haven’t produced any evidence of it. LaRose is not making such claims.

“I don’t think there’s rampant voter fraud,” he said, but he added that he believed it should be prosecuted when it occurs.

LaRose said he only would support a photo ID requirement for Ohio voters if it were “thoughtfully” put together and if the legislature appropriated enough money for everybody to truly have access to them.

To Clyde’s contention that current Secretary of State Jon Husted has been too aggressive in purging voter rolls, LaRose said he’d be happy to work with her to come up a system that keeps eligible voters on the rolls while keeping the voter lists from becoming unmanageably large.

Read full Columbus Dispatch Article here

By Marty Schladen for the Columbus Dispatch on 5/16/17

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