Ohio justices give former Republican state senator Kevin Coughlin spot on ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered a former state senator onto the fall ballot in Summit County, settling the latest round in a long-running dispute involving one of Ohio's most powerful political leaders.

The high court's decision allows former Republican state Sen. Kevin Coughlin to run in November for Stow Municipal Clerk of Courts.

It's a considerable political fall for Coughlin, who once aspired to be Ohio's next governor. That was before Coughlin and the New Summit County Republicans took on the county Republican party, and its then-chairman Alex Arshinkoff, and lost.

In 2008, the New Summit County Republicans sought to replace Arshinkoff, alleging he had consolidated power for personal benefit. Coughlin went further, accusing Arshinkoff of exploiting his position to steer business to his lobbying firm and to pay for a car and other personal perks.

Arshinkoff, who took charge of the party in 1978 at the age of 23, defended his record and his approach. He called Coughlin "truth-challenged."

Lacking GOP support, Coughlin chose this year to run for the nonpartisan office of clerk. But the Summit County Board of Elections blocked the effort, voting to reject Coughlin's candidacy on grounds that his past Republican affiliation disqualified him from running without a party label.

Justices disagreed last week, voting unanimously to overturn the board's vote and place Coughlin's name before voters.

"If it was the intention of the bosses to slow my campaign down, they failed," Coughlin said in a statement. "We have been campaigning hard all throughout the court district, and I'm encouraged by the support we have received, including the endorsements of several Republican and Democratic community leaders."

He said he intends to run a nonpartisan, professional judicial office if elected.

A message left Monday morning at Arshinkoff's office seeking comment wasn't immediately returned.

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