WASHINGTON – Rep. Bob Ney formally requested Monday that his name be removed from the November election ballot, ensuring that a special primary election will be held to replace the embattled Republican.
His letter officially notifying election officials ends speculation about whether he would wait until after Aug. 19, when party leaders would have been able to appoint a replacement.
Ney announced he would withdraw from the race a week ago, citing the strain of an intensifying corruption investigation that had focused for months on his dealings with lobbyists. The six-term congressman denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged.
Democrats targeted Ney's seat in the wake of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Ney's campaign began hemorrhaging money after his former chief of staff pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt the congressman, and the Justice Department subpoenaed Ney aides in Ohio and Washington.
Democrats hope Ney's legal troubles will help them gain one of the 15 seats they need this fall to take control of the House.
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said he spoke to Ney on Monday morning about the decision to have a primary instead of letting local party officials choose a new candidate.
"He told me he really thought the voters of the district should make the decision in selecting the candidate, rather than the party chairmen," Bennett said.
State Sen. Joy Padgett of Coshocton is Ney's and House Majority Leader John Boehner's choice to replace Ney, but there have been questions over whether she is eligible to run after losing her bid to become the GOP lieutenant governor nominee. Attorney General Jim Petro, her former running mate, offered a legal opinion last week that she could run.
Bennett expects others to enter the special primary, likely to be held in mid-September.
Democratic Zack Space has kept his campaign focused on corruption, branding Padgett for her close ties to Ney and Gov. Bob Taft, who pleaded no contest last year to failing to report gifts.