As Ohio goes...
May 4, 2018 9:43 PM   Subscribe

The choices include the current lieutenant governor, the current state attorney general, a former Obama administration official, a former presidential candidate/ventriloquist, a boxer, and finally, a "truly remarkable man of God." Ohio voters have a lot to decide this year, and it kicks off during the May primary early next week. What does it all mean for America's favorite bellwether state?

Elsewhere in Ohio, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown will defend his seat in fall as the hastily assembled Republican primary features a really rich guy already in office and another really rich guy who's never held elected office. In the May primary, Ohio voters will consider Issue 1, which would implement a bipartisan process to draw federal congressional districts and reduce the effects of gerrymandering. Ohio voters already passed a similar bill in 2015 for redrawing state legislative districts.

Many other laboratories of democracy have been taking up much of the oxygen in state-level-politicking, but it's worth taking the temperature in Ohio, America's seventh largest state. The state went for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but flipped to Trump in 2016 (partly due to nine pivot counties). Ohio's various diners and coffee shops in its rural and rustier areas have been overrun by journalists seeking an explanation for the change. These stories do not, of course, reflect the entire political landscape of Ohio. More than 77% of Ohio's population lives in urban areas. Ohio state government and local government have often been at odds over recent years, especially as the state seeks to pre-empt many local measures related to environmental and labor concerns. Ohio's mayors have gotten together to form a group to represent municipal interests in the state. The mid-term elections won't just be a bellwether for post-2016 politics, they may also show whether the Three C's - Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus - can continue to flex their muscle, or whether they continue to be overruled by politicians from outside the state's majority cities. And the echoes of the 2016 election continue to reverberate in Ohio's state politics.

Republican governor John Kasich is term-limited, and as he continues to play the "will he or won't he run in 2020?" grand tour o' pundits, the Buckeye State is focusing on who to send to the governor's mansion in Columbus. In the Republican primary are Mary Taylor (current lieutenant governor) and Mike DeWine (current attorney general). Taylor and DeWine are locked in a SuperPAC spending battle royale to the tune of nearly $10 million for the Ohio Republican gubernatorial primary while they repeat talking points like "the swamp" and "lock her up" (really).

On the Democratic side, the primary race originally included three women. All three have now dropped out. Much of the blame for this state of affairs lies with the Ohio Democratic Party which has a long history of failing to support rising stars in the party while throwing its lot in with failed politicians who do little to excite the state electorate. The current Democratic gubernatorial primary pack consists of Richard Cordray (former Consumer Protection Finance Bureau chief and former Ohio Attorney General), Dennis Kucinich (former mayor of Cleveland and former US Representative from Ohio's 10 district), Joe Schiavoni (Ohio State Senator, District 33), and Bill O'Neill (Ohio Supreme Court justice). The frontrunners are currently Cordray and Kucinich, but most Democratic voters remain undecided. In many ways, the Ohio Democratic governor's primary is becoming a proxy between the party's pick and the guy who was for universal healthcare before it was cool. And like the 2016 election, stories about shady foreign funding have surfaced in the run-up to Election Day. Whether Cordray or Kucinich wins, could one of them finally be Ohio's second Democratic governor in the last 25 years?

Meanwhile, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel was the original major candidate in the Republican Senate primary, the winner of which will run against Senator Sherrod Brown. But Mandel withdrew shortly after the New Year due to a major health crisis in his family. The GOP quickly scrambled to find candidates (with a brief flirtation with Hillbilly Elegy writer JD Vance), and the current front-runners include Jim Renacci (US Representative from Ohio's 16th district and endorsed by Trump) and Mike Gibbons (business man endorsed by Rand Paul). Gibbons recently filed suit against Renacci over allegations that he is "anti-Trump". Ironically, according to 2005 news reports Gibbons felt that "Cleveland's "radical leftist" congressional representatives -- at the time, Dennis Kucinich and the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones -- were harming the city by fighting the forces of globalization."

Issue 1, the bipartisan redistricting decision, has wide bipartisan support from across the state (including both state parties, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and the Ohio AFL-CIO) and is the only statewide referendum vote. A number of local issues will be on ballots around the state. And speaking of statewide voting and representation -- Ohio has a voting rights case pending before the Supreme Court over purges of voter rolls before the 2016 election.

There are a lot of colorful people in Tuesday's primaries, and the Sandusky Register is predicting it will be a humdinger. But there is always another risk. As the Toledo Blade reminds: "Boring May Prevail"
posted by mostly vowels (20 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
I’m in a quandary deciding on which of the white rich Democrats I should support here in the Ca-48 (that’s Rohrabacher’s seat) and dang Ohio! You are the swing state you have been since the Civil War!
posted by notyou at 9:55 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]


Sometimes I think I need to find a way to move back to Ohio just for the sake of voting. I kind of miss feeling like I had a tiny bit more impact.
posted by Sequence at 10:07 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]


i dont know how to do the tiny font in metafilter, but this belongs in tiny font; i dont care how rich or out of touch or white the dems are this fall, we must vote for them because our lives depend on it.
posted by wibari at 11:49 PM on May 4 [22 favorites]


Joe Schiavonni is a wonderful candidate who seems like a potentially functional bridge between traditional Democrats and Bernie Democrats (for want of a better label).

It's been distressing in local FB groups to see him virtually ignored in favor of Cordray vs. Kucinich debates that feel like 2016 proxy wars. For my sanity, I need this to not be a sign of things to come at the national level in 2020.

Mary Taylor is the Trumper on the Republican side, so I suppose I'm pulling for Dewine. Ohio has been mostly lucky to avoid the nastier side of the Republican party at the state level (save for Josh Mandel, and fingers crossed his career is over.)

Republicans here are as corrupt as anywhere. The failure of a massive charter school called ECOT might have legs as a scandal because the owner cost the state many millions of dollars by faking attendance logs. He gave heavily to conservative politicians.

We also just had our House Speaker resign because of an FBI investigation into "free" international travel, paid for by lobbyists of industries like payday lending.

It can feel sometimes like average people don't pay attention to politics at the statewide level here.
Some of it is apathy I think, due to the state being ridiculously gerrymandered. It can also feel like nothing matters, because even when positive things happen nothing changes. Our method of funding schools was declared unconstitutional in 1997, and still limps along, as one example.

I'm curious to see if the engagement and interest that's happening because of Trump will show up here also.
posted by imabanana at 1:09 AM on May 5 [9 favorites]


It's at times like this that I'd like to remind everyone that Ohio is high in the middle and round at both ends.
posted by hippybear at 1:26 AM on May 5 [8 favorites]


Bellwether:
The term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading the flock of sheep.
First he has to wake them up...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:19 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


One of the many, many, many reasons I regret moving is missing this election. Since I'm no longer there, I haven't been keeping up, and this post surprised me. Where is Husted? Presumably Nan Whaley is one of the dropouts? Both surprise me.

I really thought Husted would be the GOP frontrunner. Dewine is well past his prime, and Taylor never seemed to have much of a constituency. It's probably a good sign for Dewine that he could coopt Husted onto that ticket.

I never expected Whaley to win the Democratic nomination (it'll be Cordray), but I thought she'd be more of a factor. I've never understood the Ohio Democratic Party, and now is no time to start. At least Cordray would be competitive in a general election.

Boo for not mentioning that Rich Cordray is a former Jeopardy! champion. Runs in the family, too - I saw his kid play quiz bowl once, and he was like the Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson of trivia. And I say that as an A-rundle Learned Leaguer.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:36 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Some of it is apathy I think, due to the state being ridiculously gerrymandered.

Eh. We only really got boned via gerrymandering after the 2010 census and the subsequent redistricting in 2011. Wikipedia image of Ohio districts from 2003-2013 vs. current districts. There's been serious apathy (especially about state level congresspeople) since long before that.

It can also feel like nothing matters, because even when positive things happen nothing changes.

I think this is more the explanation, along with a certain level of complacency among both party organizations, where the Dems own the cities, the Repubs own the rural areas, neither really tried to run serious candidates outside of their safe zones, all the effort was put into state-wide contests, and thanks to Ohio's legislature basically mimicking the US legislature, we kept winding up with situations where sparsely populated Republican districts outnumber the high-density areas, so the Republicans dominate the state legislature despite fewer voters.

Mary Taylor is the Trumper on the Republican side

Which just goes to show either the corrupting influence of Trump and/or how Trump is just the Republican id let loose, as I'm pretty sure the initial plan was for Taylor to run as "Kasich 2.0."

I'm curious to see if the engagement and interest that's happening because of Trump will show up here also.

Well, we'll see what the voters think, and I understand the general skepticism about the state party, but I'm getting bombarded with Democratic mailers and emails and phone calls in a way that I have never seen before, and I've lived here since 1986. And this may have gone by the wayside slightly (it's a bit hard to tell), but earlier this year the state party was pushing the idea that for the first time in decades they were running candidates in every election and in every one of Ohio's 88 counties.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:43 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Check out this piece done by the Cleveland PBS station on the GOP candidates in the 16th Congressional District.

She terrifies me and he seems like a big empty suit.
posted by Kangaroo at 7:58 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Earlier this year the state party was pushing the idea that for the first time in decades they were running candidates in every election and in every one of Ohio's 88 counties.

Eh, definitely not true for Warren County (bedroom suburban sprawl north of Cincinnati). There are a few races right now with no Democratic candidates on next week's ballot. And I suspect Warren County is not the only county in Ohio in this situation.
posted by mostly vowels at 8:52 AM on May 5


If you ask the teachers and the families that participated in ECOT, they were actually very happy with it. The scandal surrounding its accounting is a shame, and it's interesting that Jim Trakas, one of the individuals at the center of the scandal, is running for an Ohio house seat.

I'm putting my money on Dewine taking the governorship easily in November. He has a very solid reputation and very high name recognition. He's the kind of career politician I dislike, but is well regarded in the state. Mary Taylor has simply not been able to break out.

Cordray and Kucinich will be interesting to watch. If Kucinich wins, the Republicans are guaranteed to win the governor's race. Cordray makes it competitive, but he has virtually no name recognition in the state and would have to rely on a complete Trump implosion making anyone with an "R" radioactive in November.

I think that while many in Ohio dislike Trump's persona, they privately have very few issues with his policies and my gut tells me that outside of the heavily blue areas like Cleveland and Columbus, the scandal drumbeat has gotten old and isn't swaying many people.

November is many months away...
posted by tgrundke at 8:58 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


Which just goes to show either the corrupting influence of Trump and/or how Trump is just the Republican id let loose, as I'm pretty sure the initial plan was for Taylor to run as "Kasich 2.0."

It was odd to see her sort of disavow Kasich since she was basically his handpicked successor. I'm not sure where that strategy came from, or why. It's also interesting to note that Dewine vs. Taylor has gotten very nasty and vicious.

Cordray makes it competitive, but he has virtually no name recognition in the state

I guess this is true compared to Dewine, but he's won state level office before. I think he can win, but it seems like Dems only win statewide here in wave elections. I'm honestly not sure how much the candidates have to do with it.

It's a hard state to figure out sometimes. Ted Strickland barely lost to Kasich for re-election as governor (he lost by 2%), in a very bad year for Democrats, but then he got zero traction running for senator against Portman in 2016.
posted by imabanana at 11:08 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


“Sometimes I think I need to find a way to move back to Ohio just for the sake of voting. I kind of miss feeling like I had a tiny bit more impact.“

No matter where you live now, there are local and statewide issues and candidates that can be pushed to the left in ways that matter. I moved from Ohio to one of the leftiest congressional districts in the country and there are lots of things to work on near me.
posted by Kwine at 3:45 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


I can't wait to read every article in this big post! This is great. I am a new, proud resident of Ohio and I am just starting to dig into the politics of my new state, understand all the players, and where/how I can make the most impact. I moved here from the Bay Area, and I have arrived with a basket full of abortions, unions, rainbows, and guillotines.
posted by missmary6 at 3:57 PM on May 5 [6 favorites]


So, as the locals talk about it, you've arrived with a basket of deplorables.
posted by hippybear at 4:59 PM on May 5


Thank you for this post! I'm about 85% certain that I'm moving to the Cleveland area in just over a year, so I definitely need to study up a bit.
posted by palomar at 10:21 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


As a life long Ohioan I would just like to say:

Dennis Kucinich please just go away already

please?
posted by SystematicAbuse at 7:01 AM on May 6 [8 favorites]


Thank you for this post! I am a relatively new Ohioan, living in a blue dot in a flaming red county, and I will be working my way through the links before primary day. I am mainly just so tired of my options being the white dude vs the other white dude, and Dem party mailings this year have not been inspiring...
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:48 AM on May 6


I'm a 56 year old Ohio voter and I used to call myself a republican back in the day when I was fairly certain what that meant. The primary season this year started for me with a slap-across-the-face. A couple months back I received a post card in the mail indicating a particular candidate's opponent is undeserving of my support because he did not support Trump in 2016 and that such non-support is ongoing. I guess I never realized that was a bad thing.
posted by MorgansAmoebas at 9:16 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Good recap of how Issue 1 (for a bipartisan redistributing process) made it on the Ohio ballot this year.
posted by mostly vowels at 5:15 AM on May 8


« Older "reduced public confidence"   |   Coati Mundi Que Pasa/Me No Pop I 37 years on &... Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.