A Columbus-area bank president supporting Republican state Sen. Frank LaRose for Ohio secretary of state says if Democrat Kathleen Clyde is elected, she may try to rig future elections.
In an e-mail urging his "closest friends" to support LaRose, Scott McComb, chief executive officer and president of Heartland Bank, accuses Democrats in Ohio and other swing states of trying to win the top state elections' posts so they can commit fraud.
"The left is attempting a long-ball strategy to change the electorate," McComb wrote.
"Nationally, the Democrats are focused on winning the Secretary of State posts in swing states so that they can have a DIRECT INFLUENCE on that state's 2020 Presidential Election. This is at a minimum an attack on our voting process and bordering criminal intent to "fix" future elections."
Clyde's campaign manager blasted the allegations, which were not factually supported.
"Frank LaRose's wealthy donors want a secretary of state who will perpetuate the culture of corruption in Columbus and that's why they're supporting him," Lauren Durham said. "But Kathleen Clyde's running to bring secure, fair and transparent elections to Ohio."
McComb tells his friends to spread the word about LaRose or set up a meeting or attend an event to meet him. LaRose campaign officials were copied on the e-mail.
LaRose spokesman Grant Shaffer said McComb is "a friend" but said the campaign did not draft his e-mail and questions about it should be directed to him.
"I will say this, Kathleen Clyde has been open about running for secretary of state because she believes the position can impact the presidential election. Ohioans don't want an activist for their next secretary of state, and they have reason to be concerned about her view of the office," Shaffer said.
McComb, of Blacklick, did not respond to a request for comment about his e-mail.
Long considered a less important down-ticket office, races for secretaries of state have drawn more attention from both parties in recent years amid close elections and, more recently, concerns about "voter suppression" and Russian influence on the 2016 election.
Debate has focused on efforts to combat voter fraud, including voter identification requirements and purging of voter rolls.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling upheld an Ohio law that gives elections officials the power to remove voters from the rolls if they have not voted in recent elections or responded to notices mailed by elections boards. Supporters, including LaRose, say the law ensures election integrity while critics like Clyde argue that the practice allows otherwise legal voters to be removed from the rolls.