Simply put, the 2016 Presidential Election yielded the most surprising outcome of our lifetime. Admittedly, it is too soon to comprehend the magnitude of this electoral verdict, but here are a few takeaways:

  • Big Money Cannot Beat Effective Messaging. Donald Trump unrelentingly seized on the frustration with and disdain toward the way that Washington operates. This message created a geographically broad-based wave of support that prevailed over a far superior level of organization and deeper campaign coffers.
  • The Great Divide. There is a massive disconnect between the people that govern our country in Washington, D.C., and those that they serve. As a result, the “Drain the Swamp” metaphor was one of the most effective closing arguments in U.S. electoral history.

Will Ohio Republicans Be in President Trump’s Doghouse?

The schism between the Trump campaign and Ohio Republicans is well documented. In spite of this, Trump carried the state by a comfortable margin.

Now as the Trump campaign transforms into an administration, will an “Ohio Republicans need not apply” sign be hanging on the front door of the transition team headquarters? If not, then a number of upwardly mobile Ohio Republicans could be in line for positions in Washington. Perhaps Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor or Secretary of State John Husted may end up in new positions in D.C. Also, current Congressman and former Dayton Mayor Michael Turner might be an appealing choice for HUD Secretary.

Ohio Continues to be the Electoral Bellwether State

The days of media satellite trucks encircling our statehouse on presidential election days appear poised to continue for the foreseeable future. In spite of many Election Day predictions to the contrary, Ohio continues to be in tune with the political trends of the country. No Republican has been elected President of the United States without carrying the Buckeye State.

Setting the Field for 2018

While many Democrats have assumed that Richard Cordray will be their white knight riding in from Washington, D.C., to be their party’s standard-bearer candidate in the gubernatorial election, another contender with D.C. connections might cut in line ahead of Cordray. Don’t rule out the possibility that Senator Sherrod Brown will decide to run for governor. Given the dynamics in Washington, Brown may feel called to try to be something other than a senator. With Democrats failing to gain majority status in the Senate, Brown will not become a committee chair in the new Congress. If Sherrod Brown has unfulfilled dreams of being the governor of the state of Ohio, 2018 might be the right year for him to follow his dreams. Politics is all about matchups. Brown’s thinking may be that in 2006 he defeated Mike DeWine – the early favorite to be the Republican nominee for governor – and could beat him again in 2018. Also, if traditional electoral trends continue, President Trump’s first mid-term election in 2018 could provide a lot of momentum for Democrats. Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper’s plan of developing a deeper bench of local officials from which to tap for statewide races will be tested in 2018.

Here is how the 2018 statewide slate is lining up:

Statewide Office

Republicans

Democrats

Governor

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor are all, in effect, running for governor.

Connie Pillich, former State Representative, former statewide candidate and veteran; Tim Ryan, U.S. House of Representatives; Joyce Beatty, U.S. House of Representatives, former Ohio House Minority Leader; Betty Sutton, former U.S. House Representative; Todd Portune, Hamilton County Commissioner; Sherrod Brown, U.S. Senator

Lieutenant Governor

Because candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run as a team, the identification of lieutenant governor candidates typically occurs late in the positioning process. Possible candidates include anyone who is talked out of running for any of other statewide offices. Also, Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (who is term-limited and cannot run for reelection in in 2018) could make a foray into a statewide candidacy.

Possible candidates include anyone who is talked out of running for any of the other statewide offices.

Auditor

Ohio Senate President Keith Faber appears to be positioning himself well to be the leading candidate for the party. Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo could run for this office as well.

Not clear, but possible candidates include anyone who is talked out of running for any of the other statewide offices.

Attorney General

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost appears to be in a leading position to be his party’s candidate.

Steven M. Dettelbach, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Harvard Law School classmate of President Obama; Joe Schiavoni, current State Senator and Minority Leader (also a viable contender for Governor and Auditor)

Secretary of State

State Senator Frank LaRose of the Akron Area and State Representative Dorothy Pelanda of Marysville are both vying to be their party’s nominee.

Kathleen Clyde, current State Representative from Portage County; Alicia Reece, current State Representative from Hamilton County and president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus

Treasurer

Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo is probably in the best position to be the GOP nominee for this statewide post; however, Representative Bob Sprague of the Findlay area is also considering a run for this position.

David Leland, current State Representative from Franklin County

U.S. Senator

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is seeking a second opportunity to go head to head with Sherrod Brown. The two were previously opponents in 2012. However, Congressman Pat Tiberi, a close ally of Governor Kasich, positioned himself well with Ohio Republican National Convention attendees as a viable Republican candidate for the job.

Current Senator Sherrod Brown is expected to seek re-election to a 3rd term without a known primary opponent – but a gubernatorial race is rumored to be in his sights

Federal Spotlight

At the Congressional level, Ohio was a winner on Tuesday, not because any one political party did particularly well, but because all the incumbents in the state’s Congressional delegation held their seats, giving every member an extra term of seniority. In Congress, a system that awards longevity, this means that members of the Ohio Delegation are better situated to nab seats on plum committees and win elections for other key positions. For example, Steve Stivers is a – if not the – leading contender for the chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee. As Chair of the NRCC, Stivers would be involved in all major policy and political discussions among the leaders of the House Republicans. This gain could begin to mitigate the loss in political clout that the Delegation suffered with the resignation of Speaker John Boehner last year.

On the Senate side of Capitol Hill, Rob Portman will be in line for more favorable committee positions and stands to exploit his emerging seniority and continuing membership in the majority party.

A Peek at the Upcoming Lame Duck Session

Energy

Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards were put on hold in 2014 with the passage of SB 310; however, this “time out” on the energy standards expires at the end of the year. That means that, unless legislation goes into effect prior to December 31, the standards will again become the law of the land. There is significant interest among members of Ohio’s General Assembly to enact legislation that will in some way replace or amend the standards that are slated to come back on January 1. Mid-level conversations have already occurred between those from the Ohio House and Senate. Bear in mind that the fate of President Obama’s clean power plant rules are now in flux between a Supreme Court awaiting a new, ideologically conservative member and a President-elect that has voiced opposition to those same rules.

Unemployment Compensation

Passage of HB 390 in May 2016 provided a mechanism for Ohio to fully pay off its outstanding unemployment compensation loan balance. This moved federal employer taxes back to $42 per employee (the lowest rate possible down from $147 per employee) for 2016 and created mechanisms in state law to help raise revenue to pay for future UI loans or interest on such loans. However, solvency remains a critical topic of discussion in the Ohio General Assembly. The Unemployment Compensation Joint Reform Committee wrapped up a series of hearings on November 3, 2016. The goal of the committee was to hear from all interested parties, including representatives from the business and labor communities. What is certain is that some form of reform is necessary to rebuild the fund to a position of strength and solvency to weather the next economic downturn. What elements make it into the reform package is yet to be determined. The legislative language is likely to be a re-write of an existing unemployment compensation reform bill, HB 394, with modifications to address issues that have been raised throughout committee hearings. Elements such as increasing taxes; reducing benefits; reducing fraud, waste and abuse in the system and focusing on job creation to reemploy unemployed workers all are likely components of a comprehensive reform package.

Opioid Reform

The opioid addiction crisis and heroin epidemic have commanded the attention of the Governor, with the issue forming the subject of one of his mid-biennium review bills. SB 319, which unanimously cleared the Senate just before summer, adds additional guardrails around the distribution, control and sale of opioids and the drugs used to treat addiction, while expanding medical treatment options for those who are unfortunately addicted. General Assembly members are very interested in moving this bill as the crisis continues to grow and constituents routinely raised the issue this past summer. The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services would adopt rules specifying best practices, with updated licensing requirements for methadone treatment facilities, and expanded services provided to specialized court docket programs.

The Key Issue in 2017: State Fiscal Obstacles

The Federal Government’s recent decision to eliminate the Medicaid managed care organization sales tax has blown a huge hole in the State’s budget – one that has a downstream impact on county and public transit authority budgets, each of which relies on sales tax revenues. Currently, Medicaid MCOs in Ohio are taxed at the regular sales tax rate (and sometimes piggyback sales tax for certain transit authorities), which is then distributed to the counties. The feds want Ohio to either levy a sales tax on services provided by all MCOs – not just Medicaid MCOs – or to charge another type of tax.

Some states have expanded the sales tax as the feds required, while making a deal with the non-Medicaid MCOs through other tax breaks or incentives or member assessments. Ohio will need to find a solution by the time the Governor’s budget is released, likely in February next year. As it stands now, counties across the state are projected to lose more than $146 million in operating revenue. Transit authorities’ losses exceed $80 million.

Statewide Issues for Future Consideration

Earlier this week, the Attorney General certified a petition for a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would impose term limits on Ohio Supreme Court judges and remove privileges associated with serving and working in the Ohio General Assembly. One section would prohibit a judge from being elected or appointed to the Supreme Court if the judge has served nine or more consecutive years as a judge on that court. The other section provides that all laws that apply to the people of this State equally apply to the members and employees of the General Assembly. The Attorney General’s certification only means that the 1,000 signatures in support of the proposed amendment and the description of its contents are fair and truthful. The supporters must still clear the Ohio Ballot Board and thereafter collect over 300,000 valid voter signatures from 44 Ohio counties before the language can appear on a ballot.

Election Results

114th U.S. Congress

House

  • 246 Republicans
  • 186 Democrats
  • 3 Vacant

Senate

  • 54 Republicans
  • 44 Democrats
  • 2 Independents

115th U.S. Congress

House

  • 239 Republicans
  • 192 Democrats
  • 3 Undecided

Senate

  • 51 Republicans
  • 45 Democrats
  • 2 Independents

131st General Assembly

Ohio HouseOhio Senate

  • 65 Republicans 23 Republicans
  • 34 Democrats 10 Democrats

132nd General Assembly

Ohio HouseOhio Senate

  • 66 Republicans 24 Republicans
  • 33 Democrats 9 Democrats

U.S. House of Representatives

  • Nothing has changed but District 8
  • U.S. House – District 8 Warren Davidson (R – Troy)

U.S. Senate

  • Rob Portman (R-Cincinnati)

Ohio Supreme Court

  • Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor
  • Justice Pat DeWine
  • Justice Pat Fischer

Ohio Court of Appeals

District 1

  • Beth A. Myers
  • Marilyn Zayas-Davis

District 2

  • Marilyn E. Donovan
  • Michael T. Hall
  • Mike Tucker

District 3

  • William R. Zimmerman
  • Stephen R. Shaw

District 4

  • Matthew W. McFarland

District 5

  • Earle E. Wise
  • Craig Baldwin

District 6

  • Christine Mayle
  • Mark L. Pietrykowski

District 7

  • Gene Donofrio

District 8

  • Eileen A. Gallagher
  • Mary Eileen Kibane
  • Kathleen Ann Keough
  • Melody J. Stewart

District 9

  • Thomas A. Teodosio
  • Donna J. Carr
  • Lynne S. Callahan

District 10

  • William A. Klatt
  • Jennifer Brunner
  • Julia Dorrian
  • Susan D. Brown

District 11

  • Thomas R. Wright

District 12

  • Robin N. Piper
  • Mike Powell

Ohio Senate

  • District 2 - Randy Gardner (R- Bowling Green)
  • District 4 – Bill Coley (R- Liberty Township)
  • District 6 – Peggy Lehner (R- Kettering)
  • District 8 – Lou Terhar (R- Cincinnati)
  • District 10 – Robert Hackett (R- London)
  • District 12 – Matt Huffman (R- Lima)
  • District 14 – Joe Uecker (R- Miami Township)
  • District 16 – Stephanie L. Kunze (R- Hilliard)
  • District 18 – John J. Eklund (R- Munson Township)
  • District 20 – Troy Balderson (R- Zanesville)
  • District 22 – Larry J. Obhof (R- Medina)
  • District 24 – Matt Dolan (R- Novelty)
  • District 26 – Dave Burke (R- Marysville)
  • District 28 – Vernon Sykes (D- Akron)
  • District 30 – Frank Hoagland (R-
  • District 32 – Sean J. O’Brien (D- Bazetta)

Ohio House

  • District 1 – Scott Wiggam (R – Wooster)
  • District 3 – Theresa Gavarone (R – Bowling Green)
  • District 7 – Thomas Patton (R – Strongsville)
  • District 16 – Dave Greenspan (R - ?)
  • District 17 – Adam Miller (D – Marble Cliff)
  • District 18 – Kristin Boggs (D – Columbus)
  • District 23 – Laura Lanese (R – Grove City)
  • District 24 – Jim Hughes (R – Columbus)
  • District 25 – Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D – Columbus)
  • District 30 – Bill Seitz (R – Cincinnati)
  • District 31 – Brigid Kelly (D – Cincinnati)
  • District 32 – Catherine Ingram (D – Cincinnati)
  • District 47 - Derek Merrin (R – Monclova Township)
  • District 49 – Thomas E. West (D – Canton)
  • District 53 – Candice Keller (R – Middletown)
  • District 57 – Dick Stein (R – Norwalk)
  • District 59 – John A. Boccieri (D – Poland)
  • District 62 – Scott Lipps (R – Franklin)
  • District 63 – Glenn W. Holmes (D – McDonald)
  • District 68 – Rick Carfanga (R – Genoa Township)
  • District 70 – Darrell D. Kick (R – Loudonville)
  • District 72 – Larry Householder (R – Glenford)
  • District 74 – Bill Dean (R – Xenia)
  • District 82 – Craig Riedel (R – Defiance)
  • District 84 – Keith Faber (R – Celina)
  • District 87 – Wes Goodman (R – Cardington?)
  • District 89 – Steven M. Arndt (R – Port Clinton)
  • District 94 – Jay Edwards (R – Nelsonville)