Mike Allen performed a public service Monday when he removed his name from the ballot for re-election as Hamilton County prosecutor.
The scandal that erupted last month when Allen admitted he hired and promoted a woman with whom he was having an affair has gotten in the way of the people's business. His initial insistence on running again could have had far-reaching consequences on election night. Each ballot with a vote by his name would have to have been hand counted against those marked with the names of write-in candidates. Doing that might have delayed Ohio's final tabulation in the presidential race. With that race expected to be close, the entire country could have been waiting on the outcome.
Allen had been unopposed and the scandal broke well after the deadline for anyone else's name to get on the ballot. Allenwould have been an almost certain victor over any write-in candidates. Now all the candidates in the prosecutor's race will be write-ins. Now write-in tabs can be removed from the ballots and counted separately from all the other races, preventing a delay.
There are five registered write-ins in the race. The biggest name among them is Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters, who preceded Allen as prosecutor. He was recruited during the past week by the Republican Party and waited until Allen announced his withdrawal before filing. Deters recently weathered a scandal of his own, a 14-month Cuyahoga County grand jury investigation into the way the Treasurer's office awarded state contracts. But the grand jury found no wrongdoing on his part. Deters' name recognition gives him a powerful edge over Democrats Fanon Rucker and Jody Luebbers, and Republicans James Rueger and Melissa Powers, but the important thing is that the voters now have a real choice.
We had hoped Allen would leave office immediately, allowing the appointment of an interim prosecutor until the election. His decision to finish his term is a disappointment, but one we can live with now that we know he will eventually be gone.
Still to be resolved is the federal sexual harassment and discrimination suit filed against Allen and the county by the woman in the scandal, Assistant Prosecutor Rebecca Collins. Collins, a former copy editor on the Enquirer's editorial page, claims she was coerced into the 3 1/2 year relationship and continued it because she feared losing her job. Allen insists the relationship was consensual.
The county now needs to cut its losses in this mess and work out a reasonable settlement with Collins' lawyers. A settlement could limit the county's financial exposure caused by Allen's disgraceful behavior, and move Collins off the county payroll.
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