Ohio Political News Briefs

Staff Reports

Space has issues edge in auditor race


Published on Feb. 15, 2018

Zack Space, the most likely Democratic candidate for state auditor, starts the race this year with a trifecta of issues against his Republican opponent, state Rep. Keith Faber, that should raise the profile of what it usually a snoozer of a statewide contest.

Those issues include the auditor’s role in the gerrymandering of statehouse and congressional districts — something voters are becoming aware of just in time for the 2018 election.

The auditor is one of three elected officials who is automatically part of the 7-member commission that draws statehouse districts — and which might draw congressional district maps too.

Mr. Space also has political advantages in a year when gerrymandering, under-performing charter schools, and the Republican Party’s anti-alternative energy policies are ripening.

For example, Mr. Faber’s authorship of a last-minute amendment in 2014 that created deep setback requirements for new wind turbines. The legislation stopped the expansion of the wind energy business in Ohio in its tracks.

There’s also Mr. Faber’s history of support for ECOT, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow internet-based charter school that was forced to shut down in January, and the current auditor’s lack of an aggressive challenge of ECOT.

Mr. Space, whose last name was a mistranslation at Ellis Island of his Greek immigrant grandfather’s name, is a former congressman from southeast Ohio.

He was elected in 2006, defeating a Republican mired in a scandal and in a year that Democrats swept many elected offices in Ohio. Mr. Space won again in 2008 but was defeated in 2010.

The year 2006 was when Tom Noe’s thefts from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation and his federal campaign finance violations put him behind prison bars. The Noe scandal swept Democrat Ted Strickland in as governor and Republican Mike DeWine out as U.S. Senator.

Winds of scandal, or at least of bad policy, are blowing again from Lucas County, where ECOT is chartered and sponsored in Lucas County by the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, a local elected board.

Mr. Space came through northwest Ohio this week. He stopped for an interview with The Blade on his way to a fundraiser at the Oregon home of Lucas County Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter.

Along with him, as he is on all of his campaigning, was Mr. Space’s father, Socrates Space, a former Democratic chairman in their home county of Tuscarawas.

His opponent is a Republican from Celina, Mercer County, on the state’s western side. Mr. Faber has been in the General Assembly since 2001. As he came up against term limits, Mr. Faber bounced between the two houses, serving in the House 2001 to 2009 and in the Senate 2009 to 2017, and is now finishing up his first term back in the House.

A lawyer, Mr. Faber is making his first statewide run for office.

He’s vulnerable from his association with ECOT.

Mr. Faber has been a supporter of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, a charter school operated by a for-profit business run by founder Bill Lager, which has received $1 billion in state education funding over 18 years. In that period, ECOT and Mr. Faber donated $34,013 to Mr. Faber’s political campaigns.

Mr. Faber is a considering returning those contributions.

ECOT was poorly supervised, and its claims of enrollment were not seriously challenged by state government until 2016. Since then ECOT was ordered to return $80 million to the state, forcing it into bankruptcy.

Mr. Space is vulnerable as well, due to mistakes of his own making. He let his law license lapse, a mistake that adroit negative advertising will make some voters think he was disbarred.

Negative campaigns have been built on less.

A Democrat in Ohio hasn’t won state auditor since 1994. With the issues on the table this year, Mr. Space at least should be able to make it close.

‘Give Government Back To The People’: Lakewood State Rep State Representative Nickie Antonio wants money out of politics.

By Chris Mosby, Patch Staff

Lakewood Local News

Mon, Feb 19

LAKEWOOD — Two Democratic State Representatives for Ohio testified about the corrupting influence of money in politics this week. Lakewood’s Nickie Antonio and Euclid’s Kent Smith both support a resolution limiting corporate influence on U.S. elections.

“In the United States, we still live in a democracy. It is time that our society truly reflects the will of the people,” said Antonio during her testimony. “It is time to give our government back to the people — not corporations.”

The testimony from Antonio and Smith came in support of House Resolution 74. That legislation calls for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would eliminate the person-hood of corporations, eliminate the understanding of money as speech and limit money in politics.

“In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission overturned decades of campaign finance law and gave corporations, billionaires and super PACs new privileges to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or defeat political candidates,” said Smith. “This is the money that decides who runs, who wins and who governs.”

Another hearing for HR 74 has not yet been announced.


Staff Reports