One of the benefits of our 2016 Write-in campaign was meeting kindred spirits all over the second Congressional District. As I traveled throughout the eight counties I was welcomed with open arms. Every Democratic meeting or fundraiser felt like a family reunion!
Recently, that networking paid off in the fight against disenfranchisement. The source of disenfranchisement in the district has been the combination of a "phantom" candidate William R Smith and Democratic voters who are not aware they are being hoodwinked by him.
But something incredible happened through the work of friends in Clermont, Ross, and Pike counties.
A Democrat from Clermont County pulled Smith's petitions for 2012, 14, and 16. There was a definite pattern as the same 80 or so people signed the petitions year after year and there was only one circulator.
A Democrat from Ross County met with me and discussed her theories about the Smith mystery, confirming that the circulator was a Dem office-holder in Pike County.
The next day, Braydon Bevins of Pike County (who ran for Ohio school board in 2016) invited me to speak with the petition circulator before the Pike County Dems meeting. He informed me that the signatures came from the workers at the Pike County government building.
I cleared my schedule and rushed to Waverly! Which conspiracy theory would prevail?
It turned out to be quite innocent--a friend helping a friend--though it had a profound effect on the outcome of several elections. We discussed the obvious inability of Smith to mount a campaign and the circulator agreed, saying he didn't think Smith would run this year.
I asked, if Smith did want to sign up to run for the next election, would the circulator refrain from collecting signatures ? "Yes", he answered.
I swear I heard a cheer from everyone who had been fooled by Smith over the years...