Dec. 21, 2015 — With several states holding concurrent primaries (with the presidential election) in March, candidate filing deadlines are passing. The Ohio candidates became official at the end of this week.
Sen. Rob Portman (R) will face two minor Republican opponents before competing with former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in the general election. Strickland has one credible Democratic opponent, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld who repelled pressure from party leaders to exit the race. One minor Democratic contender also filed. Two Independents and a Green Party candidate will also present themselves on the US Senate ballot.
In the House races, 15 of the 16 incumbent Ohio congressmen will seek re-election. Only the 8th District of resigned Speaker John Boehner (R) will be open and settled in a special election. The special primary will be held concurrently with the regular nomination contests on March 15, with the related general on June 7. Eighteen Republican candidates filed for the safe GOP seat just north of Cincinnati. Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, state Sen. Bill Beagle, and state Rep. Tim Derickson appear to be the top GOP candidates. The eventual winner will square off against the lone Democrat who filed, party activist Corey Foister.
Four congressmen, three Republicans and one Democrat, drew primary opposition, but only one is a serious challenge, while another may develop.
Rep. David Joyce (R-Northeastern Ohio) draws the man he defeated 55-45 percent in the 2014 Republican primary, then-state Rep. Matt Lynch (R). Reports indicate that, so far, Lynch has only $43,000 in the bank so it remains to be seen whether this nomination challenge becomes competitive. Two Democrats also filed in this 14th District seat, former Judge Alfred Mackey and ex-Cuyahoga Port Authority Chairman Scott Wharton. It appears most of the Ohio congressional action will occur in this district.
The other potentially credible primary challenger comes in southwestern Ohio’s 2nd District. Here, West Claremont School Board member Jim Lewis (R) filed at the last moment, and will challenge two-term Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati). It is unlikely that Rep. Wentrup is endangered, but the primary may be worth watching if Lewis can bring legitimate resources to the race. The fact that his candidacy became known only at filing time suggests that this challenge will not develop.
All 15 incumbents face general election opposition, but none appears serious with the possible exception of the aforementioned David Joyce situation. If former Port chairman Wharton is able to develop campaign resources and should former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sweep to a presidential victory in Ohio, which is likely to happen only if she wins nationally, then this challenge could develop.
Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois candidates are now filed. Mississippi and North Carolina will soon follow suit. All other states holding presidential primaries in March will conduct their down ballot primaries on subsequent dates.