With the 4PM filing deadline for candidates in Ohio occurring last Wednesday, there comes a new slate of candidates for races throughout the state. Below is an analysis of top primary races for the Ohio General Assembly.
Surprisingly, many General Assembly candidates will go without an opponent in both the primary and the general election this upcoming cycle. The smaller number of overall races allows for Ohio House Democrats to focus on a winning handful of competitive seats. Many of the competitive seats are traditionally Democrat, taken by House Republicans during a banner 2014 election cycle. Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (one of the candidates with a pass this cycle) will be tasked with developing an overall campaign strategy to take seats away from the current 65 seat Republican majority. Here are some primary races of note.
HD12-Incumbent Democrat Rep. John Barnes Jr. has long frustrated his caucus and constituents with his penchant for independent thinking. It’s no surprise that Rep. Barnes finds himself in a three- way primary for his seat once again. Rep. Barnes’ opponent in 2012, Jill Miller-Zimon, a former Pepper Pike City Councilwoman and blogger, along with Earl W. Campbell of Cleveland, will challenge for the seat in this 60 percent African-American district. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee (OCCPaC) previously endorsed Rep. Barnes in his 2012 race.
HD18-In the race to replace Rep. Michael Stinziano, who will vacate his seat to serve on Columbus City Council, there is a three-way Democratic primary. With Rep. Stinziano stepping down from his seat any day now, the House Democratic Caucus will likely appoint a successor to serve out his term, allowing for a candidate to run as an incumbent in 2016. Democrat Kristin Boggs, is the likely front runner for the seat that encompasses a number of urban communities in Franklin County. Boggs, a lawyer in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, is the daughter of Bob Boggs, the former Senate minority leader and director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture under the Strickland Administration.
HD27-Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr. defeated incumbent Peter Stautberg to claim the surprise victory of the 2014 primary. The 2014 race was a classic tea party versus establishment candidate race. Rep. Brinkman was able to win despite large spending by the Ohio Republican Party and House Republicans in the days leading up to the 2014 primary. This time around, incumbent Rep. Brinkman is on the receiving end of a primary from education activist Heidi Huber of Cincinnati.
HD31-The lack of endorsement from the Hamilton County Democratic Party makes a six-way primary for the 31st House District an interesting one to watch. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Denise Driehaus, who is launching a campaign for Hamilton County Commissioner. The front runner for this race is Brigid Kelly, a union organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 75. Other candidates for the seat include Paul Booth, a former Cincinnati City Councilman; Brian Garry, a former candidate for Cincinnati City Council; Nicholas Hollan, another former candidate for Cincinnati City Council and owner of a construction company; Ben Lindy, a regional director at Teach for America; and Paul Sohi, an area dentist that ran an unsuccessful primary campaign against Sen. Cecil Thomas for the 9th Senate District in 2014.
HD47– A four- way Republican primary for term-limited state Rep. Barbara Sears’ district is underway. The district consists of portions of western Lucas County, including the City of Sylvania and Monclova Twp. The candidates for the seat are former Sylvania Twp. Trustee Kevin Haddad, former Waterville Mayor Derek Merrin, Monclova Twp. Trustee Barbara Lang, and Sylvania school board member Vicki Donovan-Lyle.
HD51-Despite previously pledging that he would not seek re-election without the Butler GOP primary endorsement, incumbent Rep. Wes Retherford will attempt to retain his seat. Rep. Retherford squares off against former state Rep. Courtney Combs, who previously served in the seat from 2004-2012. You can read a previous ProBiz Politics blog post analyzing the race here.
HD57-Another four- way Republican primary for term-limited state Rep. Terry Boose’s seat has emerged. The district consists of Huron and portions of Lorain County. The winner of this seat has the ability to be from either county, although Huron holds the population advantage on paper. The candidates for the seat are Rochester Mayor Kathy Frombaugh, small business owner Tim Opsitnik of Avon, small business owner Dick Stein of Norwalk, and Lee Charles Waldrup of Bellevue.
HD62-Warren County is a difficult area of the state to handicap political races. Once you think you finally have a grasp on what political factions have the power in this nearly 70 percent Republican county, it has already changed. The four-way primary for this seat is indicative of the factions at play within the GOP in the region. The 62nd House District is being vacated by Rep. Ron Maag due to term-limits and consists of portions of Warren County that include the cities of Franklin, South Lebanon, and Springboro. The candidates for the seat are Jake Fryman of Carlisle, businessman Scott Lipps of Franklin, Steve Muterspaw of Lebanon, and Warren County GOP Chairman Ray Warrick.
HD63-In light of Rep. Sean O’Brien’s announcement that he would seek Sen. Capri Cafaro’s 32nd Senate District next year, a three-way Democratic primary has emerged in the 63rd House District, an area that encompasses the southeastern portion of Trumbull County. McDonald Mayor Glenn Holmes and Hubbard Councilman Ben Kyle both announced their candidacies for the seat this summer. A third candidate, Marianne James, a retired public educator from Niles, ran unsuccessfully against Rep. O’Brien in the 2014 primary.
HD68– A four- way Republican primary for term-limited Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl’s district is underway. The district consists of portions of eastern Delaware County, and all of Knox County. The candidates for the seat are Genoa Twp. Trustee Rick Carfagna, education consultant Beth Lear of Galena, insurance agent W. Myles Bancroft of Delaware County, and Centerburg Schoolboard member Jason Rogers.
HD72-Following the announcement from Rep. Bill Hayes that he would seek the position of Licking County prosecutor, an old name began to surface to replace him. Former Speaker of the House Larry Householder has launched a campaign to return to the Ohio House. Householder served as speaker from 2001-2005. He will face Coshocton City Council President Cliff Biggers and Newark businessman Randal Almendinger in the primary.
HD74-Rep. Bob Hackett’s departure to run for the Ohio Senate has created a four-way primary consisting of political newcomers for the 74th House District. The district consists of Madison and portions of Greene County. The candidates for the seat are health care lobbyist Joe Russell of London, financial planner Brendan Shea of London, attorney Chris Wallace of Plain City, and Bill Dean of Xenia.
HD87– In the race to replace term-limited Rep. Jeff McClain, three candidates are vying for the seat. Wesley Goodman, a conservative GOP activist from Cardington and Morrow County Commissioner Tom Whiston have both been actively campaigning for the seat since summer. Former Rep. Steve Reinhard of Bucyrus quietly filed his petitions last week making the race a competitive three-way primary. The district consists of Wyandot, Crawford, and Morrow Counties and parts of Marion and Seneca counties.
Entering his fourth year as caucus leader, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber looks to maintain the 23-10 seat majority that has been held since 2010. Sens. Troy Balderson and Dave Burke both had competitive races in the 2012 general election, facing opponents that emerged over their support for the controversial Senate Bill 5. This year, both of them have received a pass in both the primary and general election. Here are some primary races of note.
SD4-Like the race for the 8th Congressional District, the 4th Senate District Republican primary will feature a crowded field. Incumbent Bill Coley will have to fend off three opponents including Eric Gurr, a Butler County businessman who dropped out of the 8th Congressional race to challenge for the state Senate. The 4th Senate District includes the majority of Butler County, excluding portions of Middletown.
SD12– Senate President Keith Faber’s departure is setting up what will be one of the most competitive Republican primaries in the General Assembly this cycle. Former Ohio House colleagues Matt Huffman of Lima and John Adams of Sidney will square off in a tea party vs. establishment primary that will factionalize GOP & conservative activists throughout the 12th District’s seven counties. The 12th District reads +16 Republican on the Partisan Index.
SD22-Senate Majority Whip Larry Obhof has drawn lobbyist Janet Folger Porter in the Republican primary for the 22nd Senate District. Porter, the leader of a social values special interest group has spent the better part of three years trying to push the controversial “heartbeat bill” through the General Assembly. Her candidacy is based off of the Ohio Senate’s alleged indifference to the legislation. The Senate has not moved on the legislation due to concerns from Ohio’s leading pro-life organization, Ohio Right to Life, that the bill would undue measures that have reduced the number of abortions in the United States in recent years. Regardless, Porter pushes on. Her bid for the Senate seems to be a publicity stunt to draw attention to this issue. The district consists of Medina, Ashland, Richland, and parts of Holmes Counties.
SD24– State Rep. Nan Baker, state Rep. Mike Dovilla, and former state Rep. Matt Dolan have filed to succeed Sen. Tom Patton in this Cuyahoga County seat. This Republican primary has the potential to both strengthen and/or weaken the eventual winner simultaneously based on how each campaign runs their race. If the race 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.
To help you keep track of the candidates for the General Assembly, Congress, and Court of Appeals, I have compiled a comprehensive list, with candidate names, political parties and mailing addresses. The list will be updated periodically.
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