By Jim EllisMarch 17, 2020 — Today is a defining day for the Democratic presidential primary but it looks like former vice president Joe Biden will easily march toward the party nomination without participation from Ohio.
Originally, the Buckeye State primary was planned for March 10, but then re-scheduled for today, March 17. Yesterday, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) requested a judge stay the primary election in response to the COVID-19 virus but was turned down. Then, in a statement late last night, the state health director stepped in to halt the primary voting process under a statewide emergency order. The governor and secretary of state are working on ways to increase mail and absentee voting, but how and when people are supposed to vote remains uncertain.
This means only Arizona, Florida, and Illinois voters are casting their ballots today. State officials in each of those places are moving forward with voting as planned. Of this group, only Illinois, like Ohio, is scheduled to hold its state primary.
Regardless of Ohio not being in the mix, at the end of voting this day, Biden will effectively become the Democratic presidential nominee, but not yet officially. Perhaps more importantly, at least as it pertains to Ohio, is what happens to the candidates running for the down-ballot offices.
There is no US Senate race in Ohio this year, but all 16 congressional seats are on the ballot as well as 115 electoral contests for the state legislature (16 state Senate seats; all 99 state House seats), and a large number of local offices.
The confusion surrounding the primary could well become the foundation for eventual lawsuits from some of the candidates who may eventually lose close votes. Therefore, the decision to postpone could result in a very long primary, and post-primary cycle.