Jon Husted, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, officially launched his campaign for governor this week to replace term-limited Gov. John Kasich (R).
“There’s no doubt my family would firmly fit in Hillary Clinton’s basket of deplorables, and we’re proud of it,” Husted said in a video posted to YouTube on Sunday announcing his bid. The video touted the Republican’s work to “advance a conservative agenda” as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, where he says he stood “strong for innocent life” and earned “an A+ rating from the NRA.”
Husted criticized President Trump in October for “engaging in irresponsible rhetoric” in alleging without evidence that the 2016 presidential election was “rigged” against him. “We are going to run a good, clean election in Ohio, like we always do,” Husted told the New York Times, claiming to have made it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
But during his two terms as Ohio secretary of state, Husted has backed efforts designed to restrict voting, claiming they were necessary to enforce the law and combat voter fraud. Investigations initiated by his office in 2012 and 2015, however, found a total of 44 instances of non-citizen voting—meaning less than .0006 percent of the 7.7 million registered voters in Ohio had cast illegal ballots.
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Husted led the charge in purging Ohio’s voter rolls, removing registered voters if they did not vote within a specified period and failed to respond to a mailed postcard confirming their address. A federal court later ruled the process unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Husted argued that when it came to removing voters from the state’s books, he was just following the law. He said the ruling “opens the door to fraud.”
As secretary of state, Husted made early voting days a target. Early voting can improve access to the polls, reduce lines on election day, improve the performance of poll workers, and allow for the “early identification and correction of registration errors and voting system glitches,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice
Email correspondence obtained by Salon in 2014 found that officials working for Husted discussed sending information about updated voting protocol to largely Republican-aligned organizations, a list that included anti-choice groups.
Husted staunchly opposes abortion rights and has spoken in support of rolling back reproductive freedoms.
As a member of the state ballot board, Husted voted in 2012 to allow a so-called personhood amendment to the state’s constitution to move forward, allowing an anti-choice group to gather the signatures necessary to be considered as a ballot measure.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that the measure would have declared that “a person exists upon fertilization of a female egg, outlawing abortions by giving legal status to a fetus.” It ultimately failed after anti-choice activists couldn’t gather enough enough signatures.
Husted in March 2016 hired anti-choice activist Stephanie Ranade Krider, former executive director of Ohio Right to Life, as his director of policy and legislative affairs.
At the time of her hire, Krider touted her work opposing abortion and vowed to continue it, according to the Highland County Press. “I admire Secretary Husted’s leadership and look forward to working to advance legislation and policy on behalf of all Ohioans,” she said. “I’ll always remain involved with the pro-life movement, and I am honored to work for a great pro-life leader moving forward.”