A Delaware attorney wants to make Ohio history by becoming the first independent candidate to hold a statewide office.

A Delaware attorney wants to make Ohio history by becoming the first independent candidate to hold a statewide office.

As state Democratic and Republican officials attempt to identify nominees to represent their respective parties in the race for Ohio attorney general, Robert Owens of Delaware has moved closer to securing a spot on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Tom Rieder, an archivist with the Ohio Historical Society, said he could find no record of an independent candidate being elected to a statewide office.

"Minor party candidates have won seats in the Ohio General Assembly, but not a statewide office," he said.

Owens, 34, last Tuesday filed paperwork with the Ohio Secretary of State's Office to run as an independent candidate for the post.

"Ohio law really is designed to make sure nobody but someone from the two parties can get involved in a big election like this when there's a scandal," Owens said last Thursday. "If you don't have a significant, strong and motivated grassroots effort in place, there's no way you can do it."

Candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties have until Aug. 20 to file to run for attorney general following the May 14 resignation of former attorney general Marc Dann, who stepped down amid allegations of sexual harassment, cronyism and mismanagement within his office.

Candidates not affiliated with the two major parties, however, had just 15 days -- until May 29 -- to collect at least 750 signatures from registered voters supporting their bids to run for the office.

Owens, who runs a criminal defense and civil litigation law firm with his wife in downtown Delaware, said he was able to collect 1,335 signatures from voters in 44 Ohio counties, thanks largely to his affiliation with people throughout the state who supported the presidential bid of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

"A number of them approached me and really encouraged me to run," Owens said. "It's really remarkable, the turnout we got from people across the state who had to spring into action in a very small amount of time."

Although he has voted in past Republican primaries, Owens said he doesn't identify with the ideals of either major political party.

For more than a year, he has served as chairman of the Ohio Constitution Party, which he said calls for the Bill of Rights to be interpreted "according to the actual intent of the Founding Fathers."

The party isn't recognized as an official party which can be listed on statewide election ballots.

Referring to Marc Dann and Tom Noe, Owens said, "We have a very unique opportunity in that within about 18 months a person from both parties has just absolutely scandalized (their parties)."

Noe is a Republican donor who invested state money in rare coins. He is serving a 27-month federal sentence for making illegal campaign contributions to President George W. Bush, and faces an 18-year sentence in state prison for stealing from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and trying to cover it up.

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