Mfume Elected; Ohio Races Set

By Jim Ellis

Kwesi Mfume

April 30, 2020 — Maryland held a stand-alone special election Tuesday in the state’s 7th Congressional District to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore) for the balance of the term. Cummings passed away in October and the original special primary was held on Feb. 4.

With more than 100,000 votes counted and more remaining to be tabulated from the all-mail balloting, former congressman Kweisi Mfume returns to the House with 73 percent of the vote. Mfume defeated Republican nominee Kimberly Klacik who did not have a realistic chance in the heavily Democratic district, but she did manage to raise just about $200,000 for her effort.

Candidates for the full term now move onto the June 2 state primary, an election that was originally scheduled to be held yesterday. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) re-scheduled the primary as part of his series of his COVID-19 disease precautions.

In Ohio, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) was in a competitive primary against Morgan Harper, a former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official who raised over $800,000 for his primary challenge. The four-term congresswoman had little trouble winning re-nomination, however, as she captured more than 68 percent of the vote. She is now the prohibitive favorite in the general election against banker Mark Richardson in what is a safe Democratic seat.

Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati), Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), Warren Davidson (R-Troy), Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), Mike Turner (R-Dayton), Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland), Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville), David Joyce (R-Russell Township), and Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) all had minor primary opposition. Each won with between 83 and 94 percent of the vote.

In the 1st District, two Democrats were vying for the opportunity of challenging veteran Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati). Healthcare company executive Kate Schroder claimed the primary with an unofficial and likely incomplete 68-32 percent victory over engineer and Air Force Reserve officer Nikki Foster. The 1st District has become more competitive as evidenced in Rep. Chabot’s 51-47 percent re-election victory in 2018. Therefore, we can expect another hotly contested campaign later this year in the Cincinnati area.

In central Ohio’s 4th District, paralegal Shannon Freshour won a three-way Democratic primary last night and, with more than $500,000 raised for the campaign, she will wage a challenge against veteran Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana). The district is safely Republican, but Freshour has demonstrated fundraising ability suggesting that the congressman will face an active opponent.

Former congressional aide Desiree Tims easily won the Democratic primary in the 10th District and will likely be able to command enough money to organize a credible effort against nine-term Rep. Turner, who easily dispelled two Republican opponents Tuesday night. The 10th is a bit more politically marginal than most of the other Ohio GOP districts, so another mid to high 50s win looks to be in Congressman Turner’s political future.

Rep. Balderson, who won a close special election and regular term in the 12th District back in 2018, appears in strong shape heading into is second campaign for a full term. With a lesser opponent and a strong primary win last night (84 percent), Rep. Balderson now becomes a heavy favorite for re-election.

Finally, in the 13th District, veteran Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Youngstown), who was briefly a 2020 presidential candidate, will face a credible opponent in former state Representative and ex-congressional candidate Christina Hagan (R). She will have to work to attract national attention because the 13th CD is reliably Democratic (Clinton ’16: 51-45 percent), but the congressman will face a more credible opponent than he has typically.

Currently, all 16 incumbents are favored for re-election in what will be a quieter presidential campaign year than Ohioans have seen in the recent past. Nationally, the state appears to be a lesser Democratic target in the national campaign meaning fewer resources being expended. This could shift a bit more of the political focus to these congressional races. Ohio hosts no Senate or gubernatorial race in 2020.

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