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Ballot Set for Ohio Primaries, but Legislative Maps Still in Doubt

April 24, 2022 by Reece Nations
Ballot Set for Ohio Primaries, but Legislative Maps Still in Doubt
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With less than two weeks to go before Ohio’s May 3 primary election, registered voters are showing a robust interest in the races.

To date, more than 125,100 voters have requested absentee ballots and nearly 45,000 votes have been cast statewide. Although the Ohio Supreme Court rejected the fourth set of redistricting plans drafted by the state’s redistricting commission last week, the primary will go on as planned for the races for U.S. Senate and House, governor, attorney general, auditor of state, secretary of state, treasurer of state, and Supreme Court justices as well as judicial and municipal candidates.

“Ohio’s elections are secure, they’re accurate, and they’re more accessible than they’ve ever been,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a written statement. “Ohioans should know that your neighbors, the bipartisan election officials that work in your county board of elections, have been working overtime to make sure we’re ready to go. Now it’s your turn to make a voting plan and ensure your voice is heard on May 3.”

Candidates for state senator, state representative, and the state Central Committee will not appear on the May 3 primary election ballot due to the state’s ongoing redistricting battle. In late March, The Well News reported the Ohio Supreme Court denied a bid to postpone the primary contests until the congressional maps were approved.

Following action by the Ohio Supreme Court, federal judges intervened on Wednesday, stating that the Ohio Redistricting Commission has until May 28 to draw their legislative maps, in essence eliminating the Republican majority’s incentive to draw new state House and Senate maps. Instead, the state could hold an Aug. 2 primary to determine the state House and Senate races.

The state’s allocation of congressional districts will be trimmed down to 15 in the 2022 election due to Ohio’s shrinking population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Two incumbents in the U.S. House elections announced their departures ahead of the primary. GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs initially filed for reelection but announced on April 6 that he would instead retire, although his name will remain on the ballot.

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan chose to run for election to the U.S. Senate instead of seeking reelection to Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, leading five Republicans to primary for his seat. The winner of that contest will face either Democratic state Rep. Emilia Sykes or Munroe Falls City Council At-large Member John Impellizzeri.

In the Senate election, Ryan will contend with consumer protection attorney Morgan Harper and IT Executive Traci Johnson for his party’s nomination. In contrast, seven Republican candidates are vying for their party’s nomination, and chief among them is Trump-endorsed Marine Corps veteran and venture capitalist J.D. Vance.

Vance’s endorsement from Trump raised eyebrows after he had previously criticized the former president when he was a candidate in 2016, going as far as saying Trump could be “America’s Hitler” on Facebook. Vance has since walked back those statements and praised Trump’s accomplishments as president.

Each candidate in that contest is vying for outgoing Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s seat, who announced in January he would not seek another six-year term. Republicans have won statewide races in Ohio for president, governor and Senate in the last three election cycles.

Ohio’s 1st Congressional District matchup between incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Chabot and Christian activist Jenn Giroux will pit the winner against Democratic challenger Greg Landsman, a member of the Cincinnati City Council. Chabot narrowly won his last election campaign in 2020 with just under 52% of the vote and Politico, Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report each rated the election as a tossup.

In the 5th Congressional District, Amherst City Councilmember Martin Heberling will face Wyandot County Democratic Party Chairman Craig Swartz to advance to the November general election against incumbent Republican Rep. Bob Latta, who runs unopposed in his primary. Latta is favored by political analysts to retain his seat.

Northwest Ohio’s 9th Congressional District Republican Primary features three candidates running to face unopposed Democratic incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur. State Sen. Theresa Gavarone, state Rep. Craig Riedel, and Air Force veteran J.R. Majewski are contending to face Kaptur in another likely close contest, according to polling surveys.

Incumbent Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine faces a fairly crowded field of contenders for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Farmer and business owner Joe Blystone, former state Rep. Ron Hood and former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci are all competing against DeWine for their party’s nomination.

Meanwhile, former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley will contend with former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

In his first bid for reelection since being vaulted from the state Senate in 2018, LaRose will face state Rep. John Adams for the Republican secretary of state nomination. Forest Park City Councilmember Chelsea Clark is the lone Democrat on the ballot for Ohio secretary of state.

For the state Supreme Court, incumbent Republican Justice Pat Fischer will try to fend off Associate Justice Pat DeWine for his seat on the court. Pat DeWine is the son of current Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. Tenth District Court of Appeals Judge Terri Jamison will compete against 1st District Court of Appeals Judge Marilyn Zayas for the Democratic nomination to the state’s highest court.

Ohioans have until May 2 at 2 p.m. EST to vote early in the primaries and polls close at 7:30 p.m. EST on election night. Eligible voters can access the secretary of state’s website for a full list of polling locations.

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com.

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