Nickie Antonio is running to be the first openly LGBTQ member of the Ohio state Senate and is facing a tremendous amount of pressure from the local Democratic Party ahead of next Tuesday’s primary. Antonio is an accomplished state rep who’s proposed an LGBTQ Fairness Act in each of her 4 terms, saved Cleveland Pride, and has been a staunch advocate for reproductive rights, workers’ rights, and the environment.
She’s up against Martin Sweeny, the former President of the Cleveland City Council. He once used over 60k of public funds to bury sexual harassment allegations and in 2009 wrote an anti-trans amendment to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. With just days until the primary, Sweeney, the favorite of Cleveland’s political machine, is releasing a barrage of negative tactics to smear our candidate and mislead voters, including:
- Sent a mailer with false accusations. The mailer released this week – which claims Rep. Antonio told voters she received the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party endorsement – is false and provides no examples or evidence. The lie is especially egregious given the county party endorsement vote was held during the 2018 Women’s March in Cleveland, which was either a deliberate attempt to suppress women party voters or an example of gross negligence on behalf of Sweeney’s followers.
- Recorded a robocall with inaccurate information intended to suppress the vote. In the very beginning of the robocall launched when early voting started, Sweeney told voters “you only need one stamp for the return postage” on early ballots. Official instructions clearly state two stamps are required. A spokesman for the county board of elections told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that taxpayers will have to pay the difference in postage for one-stamp ballots if they do reach the office.
- Used a tainted and hypocritical surrogate to defame Rep. Antonio. This week’s mailer was signed by Mary Devring, who served as executive director of the county party when a federal corruption probe was launched against its chairman Jimmy Dimora. After being convicted of more than 30 corruption-related charges, Devring wrote a flattering testimonial asking the judge he receives a lenient sentence. He is now serving 28 years in a federal prison. Despite her support for a corrupt official, she is now expressing “strong disapproval and disappointment” in Rep. Antonio, even though Rep. Antonio is almost universally known as one of the most honest and hard-working state legislators in Ohio.
“Martin ‘Sleazey’ Sweeney is living up to his name – releasing a barrage of sleazy and dirty political tactics to mislead voters with just one week until election day,” said Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “He is calling up tainted surrogates and the ‘good old boys’ political machinery to confuse voters – smearing Nickie Antonio with false accusations, participating in a party vote when women were least likely to attend, and lying to voters about how to send in their ballots.
“Sweeney is again misusing taxpayer money for his own political gain. As a city councilmember he used more than $60,000 in taxpayer dollars to make a sexual harassment claim against him disappear, and now taxpayers could pay thousands in postage fees because of his misinformation campaign and efforts to suppress the vote. Sweeney is leading the most disgraceful campaign we have seen in any of our more than 100 races this year.”
The Democratic primary is May 8.