By Jim Ellis
April 18, 2022 — We’re on the threshold of entering the final two weeks before the Ohio primary on May 3, and the candidates for all offices are swinging into high gear just as the state Supreme Court rejected another set of redistricting maps.
The state House of Representatives and Senate primaries having been postponed, because the legislature and state Supreme Court cannot find common ground pertaining to the new district lines; no new primary date has been set. Late last week, for the fourth time, the judicial body rejected the legislature’s draw for their own political boundaries in both chambers. Since the Ohio Constitution does not give the courts the authority to draw maps, all the justices can do is return the plans to the legislature and order them to begin yet again.
News is occurring in the races that are headed toward nominations. The new Remington Research Group US Senate GOP primary survey (April 11-12; 884 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, interactive voice response system) finds former state treasurer, Josh Mandel, forging back into the lead and state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians MLB franchise, moving into contention.
The statewide GOP primary ballot test finds Mandel leading the pack with 23 percent as compared to businessman Mike Gibbons’ 17 percent, Sen. Dolan’s 15 percent, former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken posting 12 percent, and author J.D. Vance trailing at 10 percent.
Reports suggest that an endorsement coming for Vance from former President Donald Trump is imminent. If so, the polling standings will change. Remington posed a second ballot test question to the current respondent pool asking how they would vote if knowing Trump had endorsed Vance. While Mandel would still lead, his edge shrinks to 19 percent; Gibbons, Dolan, and Vance would bunch together at 15 percent; and Timken drops to 11 percent.
If the reports of Trump endorsing Vance prove true, the Remington poll suggests that such a move would likely change the race’s flow. The Trump involvement in such a manner appears to make a close contest even closer.
The Remington survey is the tenth poll taken of the Republican Senate primary since the beginning of February. Gibbons has led in six of them and Mandel three, with one showing a three-way tie among the two aforementioned men and Vance. The fact that all five of the key candidates, at one time or another, have been within shouting distance of the lead suggests that any one of them could catch a flyer at the end and propel themselves into a nomination victory with a small plurality.
On the Democratic side, US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) appears to be cruising toward an easy nomination victory against former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official and 2020 failed congressional candidate Morgan Harper.
Since Ohio is not a runoff state, we will have nominees in all races on May 3 regardless of vote percentages attained.
The governor’s campaign features a Republican primary that at one time was showing signs of competitiveness. Later polling, however, finds Gov. Mike DeWine posting support scores more than 50 percent in his battle opposite former congressman and 2018 US Senate nominee Jim Renacci.
For the Democrats, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former Cincinnati mayor, John Cranley, are battling for the party’s gubernatorial nomination. Polling has posted Whaley to small leads, but with both candidates way below 50 percent and the undecided factor well over 60 percent in polls as late as the beginning of March, anything can happen in this contest, as well.
On the House front, Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor who appeared to be the strongest Democratic opponent for 2021 special election winner Mike Carey (R-Columbus), withdrew his candidacy last Thursday. In doing so, O’Connor criticized the redistricting process and blamed Republicans for his exit. Interestingly, the original 15th CD rated an R+19, while the new 15th is viewed as R+12.
The main problem for O’Connor, however, is that the new draw took the 15th to counties west of Columbus and away from O’Connor’s strength areas in the eastern part of the region. The development makes Rep. Carey a very strong favorite for re-election to his first full term.
Other congressional primaries feature multi-candidate battles in the open 7th and 13th CDs for both parties, and a Republican primary battle for the right to challenge 20-term US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) in the new Republican leaning 9th District. Rep. Kaptur ranks fourth in House seniority and second within the Democratic conference.