This year in the Ohio Senate, there are 17 races on tap. Senate Democrats are in a single-digit minority and are looking to start digging their way out, one seat at a time. 2018 is probably the best political environment they’ll have so far this decade but the powerful Republican Senate Campaign Committee (RSCC) continues to beat them in the all-important fundraising race. In the post-primary campaign finance reports, RSCC held a $3.5 million to $20,000 cash-on-hand advantage over the Senate Dems. With that being said, the Senate Democrats have traditionally relied on the Ohio Democratic Party and outside groups to pay for large ticket expenditures and a lot of their candidates spend and raise money on their own with less reliance on a caucus campaign committee.
1st District-Williams, Defiance, Henry, Paulding, Putnam, Hancock, Hardin, Van Wert along with parts of Auglaize, Logan, Fulton.
Partisan Voter Index: R + 16
Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) was appointed following the resignation of Cliff Hite during the fall of 2017. He is running for a full-term against Adam Papin (D-Bryan) a self-described, progressive focused on rural civic action.
3rd District-Franklin (part)
Partisan Voter Index: D + 4
Rep. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) looks to replace Sen. Kevin Bacon who is term-limited. She faces Tina Maharath (D-Whitehall), a write-in candidate who beat the Franklin County Democrat Party endorsed candidate in the primary. Maharath is a political activist that has previously interned in the Ohio House and U.S. Senate.
5th District-Preble, Miami and parts of Darke and Montgomery
Partisan Voter Index: D + 2
Rep. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) is running to replace Sen. Beagle who is term-limited in a district that is always on the radar for Democrats. He will face Democrat Paul Bradley (D-Dayton), Director of Government Relations at Antioch College and a former Sen. Sherrod Brown staffer. Rep. Huffman needs to perform well in Montgomery County and has to run up the score in Miami, Preble and Darke.
7th District-Warren and parts of Butler and Hamilton
Partisan Voter Index: R + 14
Following Sen. Shannon Jones early departure to become a Warren County Commissioner, Sen. Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) was appointed by his peers in the majority caucus. He seeks his first full-term against Sara Bitter (D-Loveland). Sara is an attorney and disability advocate currently working at the University of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
9th District-Hamilton (part)
Partisan Voter Index: D + 16
It appears Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) won’t face a push for his seat like he did in 2014 against popular Republican city councilman, Charlie Winburn. For his second-term, he faces Tom Chandler (R-Cincinnati), a perennial candidate for various offices in Hamilton County.
11th District-Lucas (part)
Partisan Voter Index: D + 19
Rep. Teresa Fedor (R-Toledo) looks to return to a post that she held previously for seven years from 2003-2010. She also faces a perennial candidate in Ernie McCarthy (R-Toledo) who lost to current Sen. Edna Brown 65-36% in 2014.
13th District-Huron and Lorain
Partisan Voter Index: D + 4
Rep. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) is running to replace Sen. Gayle Manning who is term-limited in a district that has a lot of Democrat enthusiasm in the Eastern portions. The Manning name is clearly strong in the district but the partisan voter index favors the Democrats. He faces title agency owner, Democrat Sharon Sweda (D-Amherst).
15th District-Franklin (part)
Partisan Voter Index: D + 21
Rep. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), currently in his second term, will benefit from the departure of Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) due to term-limits. In a safely democrat seat, Rep. Craig is likely to become a new member of the upper chamber. He faces Jordan Garcea (R-Columbus) in the general election.
17th District-Fayette, Clinton, Highland, Ross, Pike, Jackson, Gallia, and parts of Lawrence, Vinton, and Pickaway
Partisan Voter Index: R + 13
If it seems that Senate President Pro-Tempore, Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) has been in the senate for a long time, it’s because he has. Sen. Peterson was appointed to the seat in 2012 following Dave Daniels’ appointment to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. If Peterson is re-elected and serves his full term, he’ll have held the position for ten consecutive years. He faces Scott Dailey (D-Portsmouth) a member of Pipefitter Local Union 577.
19th District-Delaware Knox and part of Franklin
Partisan Voter Index: R + 3
Franklin County suburbs and its shoulder counties will be critical for Democrat success across the ticket. With the rematch of Congressman Troy Balderson and Danny O’Connor occurring in the majority of the precincts in the 19th District, Louise Valentine (D-Westerville) could receive some fringe benefits from the money likely to pour in for the popular Danny O’Connor. Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) looks to seat swap with term-limited Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) who is running for the Ohio House seat.
21st District-Cuyahoga (part)
Partisan Voter Index: D + 29
Sandra Williams (D-East Cleveland) will seek a second term in this high index Democrat seat. Her opponent Thomas Pekarek (R-Cleveland) was previously a candidate for the 10th District of the Ohio House in 2016.
23rd District-Cuyahoga (part)
Partisan Voter Index: D + 8
Coming off a tough primary against fellow Rep. Marty Sweeney (D-Cleveland), Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) is ready for the Ohio Senate. While the PVI favors Democrats by eight points, she wont take Steve Flores (R-Cleveland) lightly.
25th District-Cuyahoga (part)
Partisan Voter Index: D + 11
Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) faces software engineer William Faehnrich (R-Wickliffe) who has been appointed as the Republican Party’s candidate following the death of previous candidate Bob Murphy.
27th District-Wayne and parts of Summit and Stark
Partisan Voter Index: R + 5
Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) is term-limited in the House and running to replace Sen. Frank LaRose who is term-limited in the Senate and running for Ohio Secretary of State. She is running against Adam Van Ho (D-Munroe Falls), a general practice attorney. While this district is the safest of the three senate districts we will be involved in, there are suburban elements that could work against Kristina in Western Summit County.
29th District-Stark (parts)
Partisan Voter Index: D + 1
Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) looks to switch chambers for the fourth time. He is certainly a household name, having represented the region since the mid-90’s. This will help Schuring since the PVI is virtually a toss-up. His opponent Lauren Friedman (D-North Canton) is a retired US Naval Officer.
31st District-Perry, Licking, Coshocton, Tuscarawas and parts of Holmes
Partisan Voter Index: R + 8
Another familiar face at the Statehouse, Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) faces Melinda Miller (D-Granville) a local community organizer. The suburbanization of this district continues to make it more competitive as the Columbus metropolitan area continues to expand across county lines.
33rd District-Mahoning and Columbiana
Partisan Voter Index: D + 3
Senate Democrats will play defense in this seat currently held by term-limited Sen. Joe Schiavoni. Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) is a household name. He faces popular local businessman Michael Rulli (R-Poland) who’s family owns a popular grocery store chain. The area went for President Trump in ’16. Can this element help carry Rulli over the line?