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With the Ohio Primary coming up shortly on May 6th, I thought I would provide a quick round up of the primary races that will be taking place for the State Senate and State House. In some cases, these races will determine the quality of the Democratic candidate. In other cases, a win by a Tea Party supported candidate might help the Democratic candidate prevail in November.

For each race I discuss, I include a verbal description of the geographic location of the district; for maps, I highly recommend taking a look at Stephen Wolf's excellent set of maps for Ohio here. I also include the 2012 presidential vote, a list of who is running, and my analysis of the preferred outcome of the races from a Democratic perspective.

This roundup includes two types of races 1) Republican primaries where a win by a weaker (typically more ideologically extreme) candidate would make it easier for a Democrat to win in November, 2) races where a Democrat or Republican is sure (or near sure) to win in November, but the primary will determine the extent to which the Republican is conservative or the Democrat is progressive.

The roundup begins after the fold.

Ohio Senate Races:

District 3 (Republicans)
Who's Running?: Incumbent GOP State Sen. Kevin Bacon, Tea Party Challenger Kevin Solveson
District Location: Franklin County (Columbus Suburbs)
2012 Presidential Vote: 54.5% Obama, 44% Romney
Who Do Democrats want to win?: From the perspective of winning the seat in November, Solveson would be the better candidate. With a some dude(ette) candidate on the Democratic side due to a petition mess-up, having an extreme Tea Party candidate like Solveson win is pretty much the Dems only chance at having a shot at winning this seat in November.

District 5 (Democrats)
Who's Running?: Dayton School Board Member Joe Lacey, former Tipp City Mayor and current Council Member Dee Gills, Businessman Tom Matthew
District Location: Parts of Montgomery County (Dayton), Preble County, and Darke County
2012 Presidential Vote: 53.1% Obama, 45.3% Romney
Who Do Democrats want to win?: Both Lacey and Gillis could be credible candidates in November against incumbent Republican Bill Beagle. Gillis has raised more money than Lacey (outraising him $13,579 to $5,087 according to the pre-primary filing with the Ohio Secretary of State) and seems to have the support of the Democratic establishment. Among those contributing to Gillis were the State Democratic Party campaign fund and the campaign fund for State Senate Majority Leader Joe Schiavoni. The third candidate, Tom Matthew, raised little money.

District 5 (Republicans)
Who's Running?: Incumbent GOP State Sen. Bill Beagle, Challenger Julie Busby
District Location: Parts of Montgomery County (Dayton), Preble County, and Darke County
2012 Presidential Vote: 53.1% Obama, 45.3% Romney
Who Do Democrats want to win?: Busby would give Dems a much better chance of winning in November, but doesn't seem to have much of a campaign presence.

District 25 (Democrats)
Who's Running?: former State Rep. Ed Jerse, former State Rep. Kenny Yuko, former Cleveland Board of Elections Chair/ state NAACP voter fund director Thaddeus Jackson
District Location: part of Cuyahoga County (Cleveland area), part of Lake County
2012 Presidential Vote: 74.1% Obama, 25% Romney
Who Do Democrats want to win?: The reason I mention this race is because some Democrats are concerned by Jerse's endorsement by a pro-life group. Something I find a bit troubling about Yuko is his support for bringing casinos to Ohio, but there don't seem to be any other major distinctions between the candidates that I could find. This seat is currently held by State Senator Nina Turner, who is running for Secretary of State.

District 27 (Republicans):
Who's Running?: Incumbent GOP State Sen. Frank LaRose, Tea Party Challenger Caleb Davenport
District Location: Parts of Wayne, Stark, and Summit Counties (Contains Suburbs of Akron and a lot of rural areas)
2012 Presidential Vote: 54% Romney, 44.5% Obama
Who Do Democrats want to win?: That's a tough call. A win by Tea Partier Davenport would give Democrats a shot in this 54% Romney district, but not a great shot. Is it worth losing a fairly mainstream Republican like LaRose, who has sponsored a proposed ENDA-like bill for Ohio? Also, LaRose could be a credible candidate for higher office in the future so a primary loss to Davenport could help Democrats down the road in other ways.

District 29 (Republicans):
Who's Running?: Incumbent Republican State Sen. Scott Oelslager, Tea Party Challenger Dennis Harbert
Location: Stark County (Canton)
2012 Presidential Vote: 49.9% Obama, 48.3% Romney
Who Do Democrats want to win?: The fairly moderate Oelslager, who has gotten campaign contributions from traditionally Democratic groups such as unions, is a safe bet to hold the seat in November. Harbert would be no better than even money against Democratic candidate Connie Rubin. In terms of winning the seat, a Harbert primary win is the Democrats only real shot at the seat and unlike the neighboring 27th district, a Tea Party win here would immediately send this seat to the Toss Up column.

State House Races

District 10 (Democrats):
Who's Running?: Incumbent Democratic State Rep. Bill Patmon, former Cleveland Council member/ former State Rep. Eugene Miller
Location: Cuyahoga County (Cleveland area)
2012 Presidential Vote: 89.6% Obama, 9.6% Romney
Who Do Democrats want to win?: Patmon has annoyed some Democrats by siding with Republicans on a number of issues. To provide one example, Patmon co-sponsored the Ohio version of the religious freedom bill that Jan Brewer vetoed in Arizona. A lot of Democrats would certainly like to see Patmon defeated in the primary, although Miller's fundraising hasn't been very strong.

District 12 (Democrats):
Who's Running?: Incumbent Democratic State Rep. John Barnes, Jr., former Pepper Pike Council Member Jill Miller Zimon
Location: Cuyahoga County (Cleveland area)
2012 Presidential Vote: 84% Obama, 15.5% Romney
Who Do Democrats want to win?: Like Patmon, Barnes has irked Democratic leaders for sometimes siding with Republicans. Barnes may be in more danger than Patmon, as Zimon has done well with fundraising and has been endorsed by Democratic US Senator Sherrod Brown.

District 19 (Republicans):
Who's Running?: Incumbent GOP State Rep. Anne Gonzales, Tea Party Challenger Meta Hahn
Location: Franklin County (Columbus Suburbs)
2012 Presidential Vote: 50.6% Romney 50.6%, 48% Obama
Who Do Democrats want to win?: Hahn would give Democrat Michael Johnston a much better chance of winning the seat in November, probably turning the seat into a Toss Up.

District 24 (Republicans):
Who's Running?: Incumbent GOP State Rep. Stephanie Kunze, Tea Party backed architect Patrick Manley
Location: Franklin County (Columbus Suburbs)
2012 Presidential Vote: 50.2% Romney 50.6%, 48.3% Obama
Who Do Democrats want to win?: Manley would give Democrat Kathy Hoff a better chance at winning this district in November.

District 28 (Republicans)
Who's Running?: Blue Ash Council Member and former Mayor Rick Bryan, Tea Party favorite Jonathan Dever, CPA Kimberly Angel Clark
Location: Hamilton County (Cincinnati suburbs)
2012 Presidential Vote: 51.1% Romney, 47.7% Obama
Who Do Democrats want to win? Based on what I have read, it seems like the race is between Bryan, who is campaigning as a mainstream Republican, and Dever, who seems to be the Tea Party favorite. Clark seems to be the third wheel is this race. The winner of this race will face ex-OSU Student Body President Democrat Micah Kamrass, who has an impressive $96,000 cash on hand. The more conservative Dever would likely be the preferred candidate for Democrats this fall, as Tea Party-backed candidates have failed to oust the current occupant of this seat, Connie Pillich who is the Democratic candidate for State Treasurer this fall against incumbent Josh Mandel.

District 35 (Democrats)
Who's Running?: Incumbent State Rep. Zack Milkovich, Akron Assistant Prosecutor Greta Johnson
Location: Summit County (part of Akron and all of Barberton)
2012 Presidential Vote: 65.7% Obama, 32.5% Romney
Who Do Democrats want to win?: Iconoclast incumbent Milkovich has rubbed party leaders the wrong way on a number of issues. For example, in this audio from the Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board interview Milkovich seems at least semi-favorable towards charter schools and it is mentioned that he voted for a pro-pay day lender piece of legislation. Milkovich also apparently was a co-sponsor of the Ohio religious freedom bill before it was quashed (what is it with Ohio Dems and that bill?) Milkovich also ran for a local Clerk of Courts position (which, despite seeming to be an inferior position, actually pays more than the State Rep. position) and lost by a wide margin to an incumbent Republican. Challenger Greta Johnson has been endorsed by the Democratic mayors of Barberton and Akron, as well as the county executive and a several local newspapers. Establishment Democrats, as well as progressives, would clearly like to see Johnson defeat Milkovich.

District 47 (Republican)
Who's Running?: Incumbent  GOP State Rep. Barbara Sears, Tea Partier Scott Allegrini
Location: Parts of Fulton and Lucas (Toledo) counties
2012 Presidential Vote: 54% Romney, 44% Obama
Who Do Democrats want to win?: There's no Democrat here, so the winner of the primary wins in November. As a strong supporter of the Medicaid expansion, it would be nice to see Sears win to show that support for the program does not entail political death for anyone who supports it. A win by Allegrini might intimidate Republicans from voting for a permanent Medicaid expansion in the future. Thus, while this race has little to do with Democratic political success, it does have import for progressive policymaking.

District 54 (Republican)
Who's Running?: Indicted Incumbent GOP State Rep. Peter Beck, Accountant/GOP Activist Mary Jo Kubicki, Real Estate Developer Paul Zeltwanger.
Location: Butler and Warren Counties (Cincinnati suburbs-aka Ohio's Waukesha County)
2012 Presidential Vote: 64.8% Romney 64.8% 33.9% Obama
Who Do Democrats want to win? Incumbent Peter Beck in under criminal indictment and has been asked to resign resign by a number of Ohio GOP officials. Fans of good government should certainly want to see Beck lose the primary. Should Beck somehow win the primary and make it to the general, it would be an interesting test to see if this district is too conservative to elect a Democrat against a Republican facing these charges. (I hear echoes of the Jefferson vs. Cao race from 2008.) Democrats do have a candidate for this seat named Rick Smith.

District 76 (Republican):
Who's Running? Sarah LaTourette (daughter of the former Congressman), Tea Partier Linda O'Brien (write-in candidate)
Location:Portage and Geauga Counties (Northeast Ohio)
2012 Presidential Vote: Romney 58%, Obama 40%  
Who Do Democrats want to win?: With State Rep. Matt Lynch vacating this seat to run against Congressman Dave Joyce, this seat features another Tea Party versus establishment battle. The likely victory of Sarah LaTourette is likely to move this seat's representation more to the middle as Sarah LaTourette shares the same general ideology as her father. I suppose in the unlikely event of an O'Brien win Democrats might be able to make the seat competitive, but I view that as unlikely as this district has sent the quite conservative Matt Lynch to Columbus several times.

District 79 (Republican):
Who's Running? Businessman Argeri Lagos, Tea Partier and losing 2012 County Commissioner Candidate Kyle Kohler, Businessman and NRA backed Rick Chimento
Location: part of Clark County (Springfield)
2012 Presidential Vote: Obama 50.2%, Romney 48.2%
Who Do Democrats want to win?: The race seems to be between Kohler and Lagos, as Chimento has raised and spent little money. Kohler lost a race for county commissioner in 2012 by a few hundred votes; however this district is about 4 points to the left of the county as a whole so it is likely he lost this district by a bit more than he did countywide. Lagos seems to be running as more of a mainstream Republican and has endorsements from Ross McGregor, the incumbent Republican for this seat who also comes from the more mainstream part of the GOP. Kohler, for his part, is backed by more conservative groups as well as conservative Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan. Ultimately, Kohler would probably be easier for the Democratic candidate, Sheriff's Deputy Darrell Jackson, to defeat in November.

District 88 (Republican)
Who's Running?: Write-in Candidates Rhonda Damschroder (wife of the current State Rep.), Bill Reineke Jr. (a car dealer), and Ballville Township Trustee Richard Geyer
Location: Sandusky County (Cedar Point) and part of Seneca County
2012 Presidential Vote: Romney 49.4%, Obama 48.1%
Who Do Democrats want to win?: Quite possibly the strangest race in Ohio, not a single candidate running actually appears on the ballot. After a petition fiasco for incumbent Rep. Rex Damschroder, a number of write-ins joined the race. A quirk in Ohio election law meant that Rex Damschroder wasn't eligible to run for the seat as a write-in, so his wife Rhonda is running instead, the idea being that she steps aside if she wins the nomination and then the party committee will name Rex to run in her place. (That name will be even more fun to write in than Leeza Murkowsky!) However, car dealer Bill Reineke has raised $59k, much more than Damschroder.

Ultimately, the best Democrats can hope for in this race is a close vote between the candidates that results in an extended vote count. This one won't be decided on election day and the longer it goes, the more it seems likely to help Democrat William Young (also a write in!).

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davidincleveland, Pariah Dog

    It's the first complete roundup I've seen for the Ohio primaries.

    Subjectively, it seemed to me (in Portage Cty., District 76) that even more was going on, judging by the deluge of campaign mailers, lawn signs and robo calls.

    Thanks for sorting it.

  •  Great job; T&R. Thank you for this. I look forward (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pariah Dog, kfunk937

    to using this diary as I watch the returns next Tuesday. The friends who ask me about this sort of thing will get a healthy dose of your work here, as we contribute to and volunteer for candidates in the general election.

    Enough fossil fuel remains on Earth to warm it 6 degrees C by 2100 AD if it is all used. A +6 C planet will only sustain half a billion humans. Human population will rise to 9 billion by 2050. Any questions?

    by davidincleveland on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 03:21:53 PM PDT

  •  A few things ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kfunk937

    First of all, not many districts are flippable. A Tea Party winner in a GOP primary is likely yet another Tea Party member of the legislature, and we have too many of those already.

    Second of all, I only know northeast Ohio so I will comment on those races. The Ed Jerse/Kenny Yuko race is a no-brainer. Kenny is pro-labor, pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice, pro-voter rights. Casino gambling is a virtual irrelevancy. He and his wife Pam love to gamble. When the last casino issue was on the ballot, the one that finally passed after umpteen failed ones, Kenny spoke at the county executive committee meeting in favor and I spoke against. It's trivial. Kenny and I are friends. I don't gamble and don't get the appeal.

    Jerse meanwhile isn't just anti-choice but revealed at the county women's caucus meeting that he is RADICALLY anti-choice. He stated "I think we ALL AGREE that life begins at conception." As in PERSONHOOD. Jaws dropped. Of course, probably no one in the room agreed with that point, which scholars, theologians, scientists, and philosophers have been debating for centuries. But the way he phrased it revealed a rigid frame of mind that gives no credence to the opinions of others. It took a special kind of nerve — or blindness — to make that statement to the women's caucus with a longtime pro-choice activist like Lana Moresky sitting in the front row.

    In addition, he has been running baseless attack ads and sending out negative mailers. Kenny's yard signs have been disappearing. I don't know Ed although I think he did some good work on regionalism as one of county executive (now gubernatorial candidate) Ed FitzGerald's top lieutenants. But in this campaign, he's revealed himself as someone disagreeable.

    In the Barnes/Miller race (full disclosure: Jill is also a friend of mine), we're dealing with the issue of Democrats being in an artificial minority due to gerrymandering — only a third of the legislature. Therefore, each seat needs to be filled with a solid progressive who is hard-working and a fighter. Barnes is not only unreliable on the issues, he's more or less an invisible man, a chair warmer. We need Jill in the legislature.

    As for the Patmon/Miller race, oy! The women's caucus, the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats and the ADA have all issued no endorsement in this race.

    Patmon is  too cozy with the Republicans and doesn't stand up for us. His challenger Eugene Miller lost his city council seat after ward lines were redrawn and he faced another, better, harder working incumbent. My read is that Miller is looking for a place to land. He's not particularly dynamic either, and he has issues — an arrogant 911 call in which he refused to cooperate with police and an honest-to-god committing of voter fraud! (he changed his address at the board of elections to the new ward, then after finding he would have to resign from city council, said he wasn't moving until January — but the election was in November). He's a hot mess.

    The other important primary in NE Ohio is house district 14 on the west side of Cuyahoga. Mike Foley is term-limited. Two good progressives, retired schoolteacher Steve Holecko and a younger candidate Mike Piepsny, who heads the nonprofit Environmental Health Watch, have been running for over a year. Early this year, former Cleveland city council president Marty Sweeney jumped in — after saying he wouldn't — for reasons we can't figure out. He has been to virtually no endorsement meetings, hasn't taken any positions to speak of, and has no record of being interested in policy issues. He would be a terrible choice, another of the handful of Democratic seats that would be filled by someone without a lot of enthusiasm and probably lacking progressive positions, although it's hard to tell. I am pulling for Mike Piepsny to win the primary. The winner of the primary will most likely be the next state rep, and since Foley has been such a strong progressive leader, I'd like to see him replaced with someone similar.

    Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

    by anastasia p on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 06:31:10 PM PDT

    •  There are a few seats (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kfunk937

      Where having a Tea Party primary win may give the Democratic Party the upper hand in Nov.

      Also, while gerrymandering is part of the problem, we desperately need more consistent candidate recruitment. This is especially true on the Senate side, where 5 Republicans hold Obama seats. We have good shots at two seats this year, but we had a major fail in a 54.5% Obama seat near Columbus. With the gerrymandering going on, we cannot afford to leave districts like this on the table.

      It is especially important for Dems to gain another seat in the State House so that Republicans don't have a veto proof majority, but after that goal I agree on the importance of electing more progressives.

      •  Even more we cannot afford (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kfunk937

        to run weak Democrats. Even if we can flip a few seats — and it will be very few — we can't afford "Democrats" who constantly side with Republicans. I just learned Michelle Rhee is backing Barnes and Patmon, a sign of how bad they are. They favored the so-called Cleveland school plan which was basically an underhanded attack on the teachers unions, nothing more.

        Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

        by anastasia p on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 07:50:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Both goals are important (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kfunk937

          I'm hoping for a Miller Zimon win on Tuesday. I wish someone stronger was running against Patmon. Also, check out Greta Johnson running against Zack Milkovich in the Akron area. Milkovich is another one who sides with Republicans disturbingly often.

  •  Senate District 3 (0+ / 0-)

    What's wrong with Star Johnson in District 3?

    •  No money (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kfunk937

      No record in elective politics so far as I could find. Nothing against her as an individual, but I don't see anything that makes me think she will be able to win against the GOP onslaught.

      But I'd you have something to counter that with I would love to hear it.

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