Will Hamilton County voters see the name Joseph Deters twice on the ballot come election day?
That could be the situation next year as Dennis Deters runs for the Hamilton County Commission seat vacated Dec. 28 by Republican Greg Hartmann. Deters, who is running against well-known Democrat State Rep. Denise Driehaus, will be doing so with a name very similar to his brother’s, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.
The prosecutor is also running for reelection, and both Deters’ names will sit next to each other on the ballot. What makes things confusing is that Dennis Deters, who currently serves as a Colerain Township Trustee, has registered for the commission race as Dennis Joseph Deters, even though he hasn’t used that name in past public filings.
That’s raised the ire of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, which called the move a cheap trick aimed at capitalizing on the Republican prosecutor’s name recognition among county voters. Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke and fellow Democrat Caleb Faux, who both sit on the Hamilton County Board of Elections, voted against letting Deters use “Joseph” as his middle name on the ballot. The board’s two Republicans voted to allow it.
Now, the decision will go to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Republicans say Deters is legally entitled to use the name because his full legal name is Dennis Patrick Joseph Deters. County GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou cites Deters’ birth certificate as proof that the commission hopeful’s real name includes “Joseph” and says he’s confident Husted will agree to let him use that name on the ballot.
“This is my ballot name, Dennis Joseph Deters,’’ Deters told WVXU last week. “And, yes, I am obviously proud of my brother. We have a family history of good public service.”
In a letter to Husted asking him to break the tie, Burke implored the secretary of state to block Dennis Deters from using “Joseph” on the ballot.
“In spite of this long history of consistently identifying himself as Dennis P. Deters, he now seeks to benefit off his brother’s name’s perceived reputation, and in doing so, deliberately confuse the voters of Hamilton County,” Burke said in the Dec. 22 letter. “This is particularly deceptive and improper given that the petitions he filed for County Commission were in the name Dennis P. Deters, yet he now desires to abandon his middle initial and insert a middle name never previously used for professional or public office purposes.”