Battle Ground Ohio: 2016 General Assembly Races By the Numbers-Part II

Fresh off of the 30 year anniversary of majority in the upper chamber, Senate Republicans will now play defense with their supermajority. With five Republican members departing due to term-limits, three of which are districts located in major metropolitan areas, Senate President Keith Faber will lean heavily on the caucus’ fundraising advantages to win both the air and ground wars.

This week we will take a look at the open senate seats that will be vacated due to term-limits following the conclusion of the 131st General Assembly and discuss candidates that have begun to emerge for these seats.

*Unlike the House of Representatives, Ohio State Senate members serve 4 year terms meaning that only roughly half of the chamber stands for re-election every two years.

Republican Open Seats
8                   Bill Seitz
10                 Chris Widener
12                 Keith Faber
16                 Jim Hughes
24                 Tom Patton

SD 12- Senate President Keith Faber’s departure is setting up what will be one of the most competitive primaries in the General Assembly this cycle. Former Ohio House colleagues Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and John Adams (R-Sidney) will square off in a tea party vs. establishment primary that will factionalize GOP & conservative activists throughout the 12th District’s 7 counties. With the departure of President Faber next year and veteran legislator Representative Jim Buchy in 2018, the winner of this contest will quickly become the voice of the Western Ohio delegation for years to come. The 12th District reads +16 Republican on the Partisan Index.

SD 24-  The news of Emily Hagan switching her bid from the open seat in HD 16 to SD 24 has political circles in both Cleveland and Columbus abuzz about a potential pick-up in Cuyahoga County for Senate Democrats. On the Republican side, State Representative Nan Baker and former State Representative Matt Dolan have both announced their intent to run for the seat. This year long primary on the Republican side has the potential to both strengthen and/or weaken the eventual winner simultaneously based on how each campaign runs their race. If the race between Baker and Dolan goes negative early, the eventual winner will likely need to make inroads with moderate and independent voters come the general. Conversely, a competitive primary will also go a long way in building name ID with non-traditional voters which provides advantages during a crowded general election in 2016.  The niece of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan, Emily Hagan of Rocky River is a staff attorney at the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. With SD 24 holding a narrow +2 Republican advantage, look for Hagan to make the race competitive in this highly competitive presidential year.

Democrat Open Seats
28               Tom Sawyer
32               Capri Cafaro

The departures of Sen. Tom Sawyer and Capri Cafaro will have the Senate Democrats looking for candidates in these open seats. Both SDs 24 and 32 are democrat strongholds that contain healthy benches of local, county, and statewide officials. Look for these announcements to occur in the months to come.

We will be sure to keep you updated on new candidates as the names become available. Next week I will profile some of the targeted races for incumbent members in the General Assembly that stand re-election. In the meantime, If you have any further questions you can contact me at rthompson@ohiochamber.com or on twitter @probizpolitics.

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