2016 Ohio Senate Incumbents

Senate Republicans have eight incumbent seats up during the 2016 Cycle to the Democrat Caucus’ one. I profiled the seven seats that are open due to term limits in a previous post a few weeks ago.

2016 Ohio Senate Incumbent Seats Up For Re-Election

District 2-Randy Gardner has represented the people of Northwest Ohio in the house and senate for the better part of 30 years. The district which consists of Erie, Fulton (part), Lucas (part), Ottawa,  and Wood County trends slightly republican, read plus two. This is the final time that Sen. Gardner is eligible to run due to term limits. With the election schedule for this seat falling on presidential years, it will undoubtedly become a competitive seat following Gardner’s departure in 2020.

District 4-Sen. Bill Coley of West Chester sits in a district that reads plus 15 republican. Sen. Coley’s opponent would realistically come in the form of a primary challenger as opposed to a legitimate threat in the general.

District 6-Peggy Lehner represents portions of Montgomery County. In 2012 she received a primary challenger from the right that forced the Republican Senate Campaign Committee (RSCC) to spend money in defeating. Additionally, Sen. Lehner was challenged in the general by former union negotiator Rick McKiddy  whom she defeated 62-38 percent.

District 14-The 14th Senate District reads plus 13 on the partisan index making it a safe republican seat. As with all seats drawn with large partisan advantages, you tend to see the majority party fall victim to in-fighting and factions. Sen. Joe Uecker won a three-way primary in 2012 with a plurality leading, 36 percent. He did not have a general opponent. Sen. Uecker will need to “out rightwing” his potential adversaries in the coming months to stave off a contest in March.

District 18-Sen. John Eklund would have had a much more difficult path to a primary victory if former state representative and tea party favorite Matt Lynch had chose to focus his efforts to returning to the statehouse rather than Washington. Although there is much more time for a primary threat to emerge, the Eklund campaign will make its main focus building name recognition for the general in November of ’16.  With the republican index in this seat close to plus 5, Senate Democrats will likely make a run at this seat as they did in ’12. State Representative Kathleen Clyde would be a potential candidate that would certainly make this race competitive should she choose to enter it.

District 20- Sen.Troy Balderson received a general challenge from a school teacher as a result of his yes vote on SB 5 in 2012 and no primary. A plus nine republican index makes the road back to Columbus for Senator Balderson easier than most.

District 22-The only member of the Keith Faber’s leadership team returning to Columbus is Senator Larry Obhof. Having four years to travel the new portions of SD22 in Richland County will benefit Obhof greatly in this plus 10 republican seat.

District 26-Senator Dave Burke is the current Chairman of the caucus’ campaign team. Being apart of the team that saw great success during the ’14 cycle will benefit Burke greatly in his own campaign. A plus 10 index in this large rural district will make it very difficult for a primary or general opponent to gain any significant traction.

District 30-Lou Gentile is considering a challenge to U.S Rep Bill Johnson. The belief is that names such as Clinton and Strickland on the ballot will help propel down-ticket democrats to victory in blue collar Appalachia. With that being said whether Gentile runs for congress or for his final term in the Ohio Senate, he will be a formidable candidate. The senate seat has an index that is nearly a statistical toss-up.  Although the index is very close, Sen. Gentile won the 30th District in 2012 by a margin of 52.4-47.6. If Senate Republicans chose a formidable candidate, there is potential to make this race competitive.

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 Ohio House. In the meantime, If you have any further questions you can contact me at rthompson@ohiochamber.com or on twitter @probizpolitics.