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Ohio lawmaker who falsely claimed he graduated from MIT withdraws from GOP primary

Dave Dobos
Columbus Neighborhoods
Dave Dobos is interviewed for WOSU's Columbus Neighborhoods in 2022 at Westgate Park in the Hilltop.

A Columbus-area state lawmaker who falsely claimed he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is withdrawing his name from the Republican primary for his seat.

State Rep. Dave Dobos wrote an email to the Franklin County Board of Elections last week requesting that his name be withdrawn from the March 19 Republican Primary ballot for the Ohio House of Representatives District 10 seat covering parts of southwest Franklin County, Grove City and Columbus.

Dobos was elected to the seat in 2022 and previously served as the Columbus City Schools Board of Education president.

In his email, Dobos said he will keep his name on the ballot for Franklin County Republican Central Committee 36th Ward.

Dobos had previously stated he was an MIT graduate on his campaign website, as well as in his online biography for the Ohio House. He later changed that biography to say that he “attended” the school.

Dobos attended MIT in the 1970s and 1980 and studied economics but did not receive a degree, MIT’s deputy director of media relations, Sarah McDonnell, told reporters in April.

Dobos has been involved with the MIT Club of Central Ohio, an alumni club of the university, and helped fundraise for an MIT reunion, among other activities with the MIT Alumni Association. His studies at MIT made him eligible for the association, and graduation isn't a requirement, McDonnell said.

Dobos told WOSU Tuesday he withdrew because he has trouble balancing both his business responsibilities with his legislative responsibilities. He said the revelations last year that he didn't graduate from MIT didn't factor into his decision and he apologized for misleading people.

“I was guilty of allowing a non truth to be perpetuated…. I apologize to anyone who feels they were misled. That’s my responsibility," Dobos said.

Despite Dobos withdrawing from the race, his name will still appear on the ballot. Franklin County Board of Elections spokesperson Aaron Sellers said the last day to withdraw a name from the primary ballot was Jan. 5.

Sellers said Dobos' name will appear on the ballot, but any votes cast won’t be counted. Sellers said signage will be posted to notify voters of his withdrawal.

Attorney Brian Garvine and Somali American Chamber of Commerce President Shafi Shafat are the two remaining Republicans running in the Republican primary. Garvine and Shafat could not be reached to comment on the story.

Democrats Sarah Pomeroy, a Columbus city attorney, and Grove City Council member Mark Sigrist are running in that party's primary.

Pomeroy said in a statement that the 10th district will now have new leadership and said it is due to partisan infighting.

Sigrist told WOSU he didn't want to say anything negative about Dobos, who he said he knows personally. Sigrist said the news about Dobos last year isn't what drove him to run for the seat.

"I think pretty frankly, all of us are flawed, and we have things that, that, that we don't necessarily like to be told about us or things like that. So I am not going to say anything negative about him," Sigrist said.

Sigrist said he thinks Dobos would have been a vulnerable incumbent if he chose to run for reelection. He said now Republicans have a chance to get behind a different candidate to face either himself or Pomeroy depending on who wins the primary.

Sigrist said he thinks the stars are aligned right now for a Democrat to win the seat.

"Even though (District 10) is highly conservative, I think, I'll do well in the fall election if I make it there," Sigrist said.

Dobos said he plans to support whoever is voted as the Republican nominee and will campaign on their behalf if they want him to do so. He praised both Garvine and Shafat and said both have an opportunity to be great legislators.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.