Early Movers – Eyes on 2020

Most candidacy announcements for state offices typically occur after the operating budget passes ahead of the three-month summer recess in the non-election years, but the political field is seeing some interesting developments well before the budget discussions have even started. A handful of people, including several members of the General Assembly, are already jockeying into position for the 2020 election season less than six months after the 2018 midterms.

Rep. Niraj Antani, currently in his third term representing House District 42 near Dayton, was first out of the gate to declare his candidacy for a 2020 race back in January. Antani (R-Miamisburg) is attempting to switch to the Senate through the 6th District seat, currently held by term-limited Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering). Term-limited House Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) may also be a candidate to contend for the 6th Senate District, which encompasses both of their House districts. Butler, who is in his fourth term for House District 41, has hinted at desire to succeed Lehner but says he won’t announce a decision until after the budget is finished this summer. Freshman Republican Phil Plummer, who represents the 40th House District also in the 6th Senate District, is another potential candidate to keep an eye on. Plummer was the longtime Montgomery County Sheriff and is the chairman of the Montgomery County GOP.

Rep. Bill Reineke announced several weeks ago his candidacy for the 26th Senate District currently held by term-limited Sen. Dave Burke. Reineke (R-Tiffin) has solid name recognition due to his family business network of auto dealerships in the region. Burke (R-Marysville) declared his endorsement of Reineke to be his successor at the announcement. Senate Majority Whip Matt Huffman of neighboring Senate District 12, was also present at the announcement. Former U.S. Senate candidate Melissa Ackison, a businesswoman from Marysville, also just announced her candidacy for Senate District 26 over social media, shaping the early field for that GOP primary election.

On The Radar

  • Reineke’s bid for the 26th Senate District begs the questions of who will now run for his current 88th House District, which includes all of Sandusky County and most of Seneca County.
  • Senate District 20 is still vacant following Sen. Brian Hill’s departure from the legislature for the private sector in February. Leading contenders for the appointment are House District 77 Rep. Tim Schaffer, House District 78 Rep. Ron Hood, Pickaway County Commissioner Brian Stewart and Melissa Bell of the Ohio Pork Council.