A spokesman for the state’s elections chief said on Thursday that the Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley has failed to qualify for Ohio’s primary ballot after falling short of the signatures needed to appear before the state’s voters.
O’Malley submitted almost 1,175 signatures to the Ohio secretary of state, 175 more than required for ballot access. But officials found only 772 of the signatures to be valid, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state said.
“While this news is disappointing, we are exploring all of our options, and Governor O’Malley will campaign vigorously in Ohio,” spokeswoman Haley Morris told Reuters. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both exceeded the 1,000-signature requirement to participate in a state that often plays a critical role in the long march to the White House.
Retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s campaign for the Republican nomination hit another rough spot Thursday with the abrupt resignations of his campaign manager and his chief spokesman.
I don’t know anyone who takes Martin O’Malley’s candidacy seriously at this point. He was long ago eclipsed by Bernie Sanders as Hillary Clinton’s main challenger. He’s done nothing to change that.” said Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
Despite debate performances widely viewed as credible and an issue-focused campaign that has given him the opportunity to argue that he’s been ahead of the field on immigration, financial regulation and education, O’Malley has failed to poll beyond 10 percent anywhere. Clinton already has the support of some key Democratic insiders in Ohio, where she won the 2008 primary over Barack Obama.
“Our campaign filed nearly 1,200 signatures for the Ohio ballot,” O’Malley spokeswoman Haley Morris said in a statement. “While this news is disappointing, we are exploring all of our options, and Governor O’Malley will campaign vigorously in Ohio. To date, he is already on the ballot in 18 other states.”
Ohio officials said that O’Malley has no way to get on the primary ballot there because the deadline for submitting signatures passed on Dec. 16. But a Democratic strategist unaffiliated with the campaign said O’Malley still could pick up Ohio delegates if another candidate dropped out.
“It’s unlikely he’s going to take off, but if he does, that’s not an unsurmountable problem,” Trippi said. “This game’s been played before. This is a problem that has happened many, many, many times. If you’re in it, there are a ways to get around the problem.”
After Hart won by 10 percentage points in New Hampshire, he moved aggressively to collect delegates pledged to candidates who dropped out, often in states where Hart had never filed to be on the ballot. Hart ultimately lost the nomination to former Vice President Walter Mondale.
An O’Malley spokeswoman confirmed this was among the options the campaign was exploring. But O’Malley has lagged so far behind Clinton and Sanders in fundraising that it remains unclear whether his campaign operation will survive past the early primaries in February.