- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Former President Bill Clinton is urging fellow Democrats in Ohio to get behind their party’s contender for secretary of state in campaign material being sent this week.

State Sen. Nina Turner’s campaign said an email with Clinton’s message of support was to be sent Thursday morning to her campaign donors and those of the Ohio Democratic Party. A Clinton letter, paid for by the state party, also is being mailed this week.

In his message, Clinton accuses Republicans of attacking voting rights in the key presidential battleground state and asks donors to make a contribution to Turner’s campaign.

“There is a determined effort to create barriers expressly designed to make it harder to vote, and Ohio is on the front lines,” Clinton writes.

Democrats, voting rights groups and others have recently challenged a series of changes to the state’s election laws. One case over two GOP-backed early voting measures is pending in a federal appeals court.

Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who won office in 2010, contends Ohio is a leader in voter access. He has said he’s worked to make it “easy to vote and hard to cheat” by ensuring that all voters cast a ballot by the same set of rules.

Clinton writes that Turner, a lawmaker from Cleveland, would expand voting opportunities.

“Elections matter and that’s why it matters to all of us who administers our elections,” Clinton tells donors. “With Nina as Secretary of State, we can count on her to expand and protect the franchise and restore integrity and fairness to the electoral process in Ohio.”

Clinton’s message to swing state Democrats comes as his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, weighs a second bid for the White House.

The former president remains in heavy demand as a fundraiser and adviser. Bill Clinton headlined the Ohio Democratic Party’s annual dinner in June. He also has been helping Democrats battle to keep their U.S. Senate majority and win other races.

A state Republican Party spokesman said Bill Clinton’s involvement in the race shows that Democrats view Turner as a “partisan warrior” who would take actions to benefit Democratic candidates.

“That might be okay for the Clintons, but it’s bad for Ohio,” spokesman Chris Schrimpf said in an emailed statement.

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