In surveying the field and how it’s shaping up, the ultimate goal for the Ohio Democratic Party in 2020 is to take back enough seats to eliminate the Republican supermajority in both Statehouse chambers. Of course, for Republicans, it’s to hold onto those supermajorities.
While Statehouse contests get more attention, a higher priority for the business community in 2020 are the two races for Ohio Supreme Court seats. Republicans currently hold a 5-2 majority in the Court, but the only statewide elections in 2020 are two Supreme Court races where Justices Sharon Kennedy and Judi French, both Republicans, are up for reelection. In its current makeup, the Ohio Supreme Court majority is fair and balanced. We are fortunate not to have Justices who use their power to legislate from the bench. However, both Republicans and Democrats are putting heavy emphasis on these races because of 2018’s election results. In an election year that otherwise saw Republicans sweep the races for governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state, and treasurer, both Republican candidates for the high court lost.
One of the challenges with judicial campaigns is that party identification is not attached to candidates’ names on the ballot. So the main campaigning objective is to increase name identification, which is more difficult to establish in these campaigns than other races due to the relative obscurity of the Court compared to the executive branch or the legislature. Voters, unfortunately, simply don’t get as excited about state-level judicial races. Should the Democrats repeat a Supreme Court sweep in 2020, they will then hold a 4-3 majority for the first time in nearly two decades. The concern that should motivate the business community to make these races a priority is not partisan, but the potential for a shift in judicial philosophy towards activism and results-oriented justice.
So there you have it, the 50,000 foot view of Ohio politics for the 2020 election year. But as always, anything can happen between now and Tuesday, Nov-3. You can access general info about the 2020 primary and general elections on the Ohio Chamber’s website. If you are interested in seeing a deeper analysis of individual state-level races, become a member of OCCPAC and make a contribution to receive the OCCPAC Ohio Politics Insider Newsletter.
To read Part 1, click here.
To see a list of candidates on Ohio’s Primary Ballot, click here.