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Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson planning to file as an Independent in Ohio

Petitions submitted with "placeholder" names
Posted: 6:20 PM, Aug 09, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-09 19:50:21-04

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson filed petitions to have his name put on the Ohio ballot Tuesday, but under the names of "placeholder candidates." 

The Libertarian Party of Ohio filed the placeholder petitions with 12,000 signatures - more than the number required by Ohio law for "unaffiliated" presidential candidates.

But the petitions were filed under the names Charlie Earl and Ken Moellman, the LPO said in a statement. 

Because the Libertarian Party would not be nominating its presidential ticket until its convention in Orlando on Memorial Day weekend, five LPO members formed a committee in March 2016 to begin petitioning for a placeholder presidential ticket that would “save the spot” for the eventual Libertarian nominees. Those placeholder candidates are Charlie Earl, of Ohio, and Ken Moellman, of Kentucky.

A spokesperson said that once officials certify the placeholder petition, the petition committee, the placeholder candidates, and the Johnson and Weld campaign will file the paperwork finalizing the swap. 

The Ohio Secretary of State's Office issued the following response to newsnet5.com: 

We are not aware of any time in Ohio history where a candidate has filed petitions to run for President and then asked another name to be put on the ballot. Should this be the case here, our office will need to review the legality of that in state law.

Senate Bill 193 created new provisions for ballot access, including a minimum 3-percent threshold of the most recent statewide vote for president or governor to retain party states for four years. 

As a result, this year the Libertarian party is not recognized as a major political party and Johnson was forced to file as an independent. 

Despite hurtles on the way to the ballot, Johnson is consistently polling between 7 and 10 percent, sometimes as high as 12 percent. 

They’re substantial numbers for a third-party candidate, according to John Carroll University political science professor Dr. Colin Swearingen. 

“I don’t think he’ll win any states, I’d be surprised if he got any electoral votes but if this tightens up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it’ll be interesting to see in some states if Gary Johnson can make the difference,” Swearingen told newsnet5.com.

He said the biggest hurtle will be meeting the 15 percent threshold in order to qualify for the presidential debates, which begin at the end of September. 

If he could get on the stage, that could be a moment for him where he distinguishes himself,” Swearingen said. “That’s another opportunity for him to do well.”