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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 26, 2006

With absentees counted, Foley wins primary race

Cleveland�The battle for the Democratic nomination to replace a pro-gay state representative was finally decided on May 20, with a gay-baiting candidate narrowly defeated.

Candidate Bill Ritter was narrowly leading shortly after the May 2 primary elections, drawing the ire of LGBT people and their supporters.

In the final weeks of the election, Ritter�s campaign sent out a mailing accusing his opponent, Mike Foley, of supporting same-sex marriage, insinuating that Foley would vote for it in the Ohio House if he were elected.

Ritter�s letter loudly noted that Foley was endorsed by the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, �a GAY/LESBIAN political action committee.� It did not mention that Foley could not cast a vote for marriage because of a constitutional amendment passed by Ohio voters in 2004.

�Mike said �YES� he supports gay marriage. �UNLIKE MIKE� this concerns me since I DO NOT want this to become a state law. I feel a Marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN. That is the WAY I WILL VOTE in Columbus!� Ritter wrote in the campaign letter.

Unofficial election results showed Ritter with a slim lead for two weeks after the election, as the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections hand-counted absentee ballots. However, with the absentee and military ballots included, Foley edged Ritter out 4,290 to 4,112. The official count was finished on May 20 and certified the next day, three days before the state deadline.

Among the votes counted were 6,121 ballots that were not part of the early results that put Ritter as the winner. Some of those were late-arriving absentee ballots, paper ballots used when voting machines didn�t work and provisional ballots.

Four other races, all of them party committee seats, also changed results in the official tallies.

Ritter and Foley were campaigning for the Democratic nomination to fill Dale Miller�s House seat in southwest Cleveland. Miller, sponsor of a bill to add LGBT people to Ohio�s anti-discrimination law, left the House in March to fill the Ohio Senate seat vacated by Dan Brady.

Ritter�s letter caused him to lose the endorsement of the United Auto Workers Cuyahoga-Medina Community Action Program Council, and brought a rebuke from the Ohio Federation of Teachers, who did not rescind their endorsement, claiming there was not enough time to have a meeting of the executive board to discuss the matter.

Foley will now face Republican William J. McGivern in the November election. Ohio House District 14 includes southwest Cleveland wards 19, 20 and 21, plus Brook Park and Parma Heights.

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