Today, candidates across Ohio filed petitions to run on Election Day in 2016. Of course, the 2016 presidential election has been making news for several months, but there are other races of significance across the state. Below, we have compiled information about some of the races that we will be watching closely as we head into 2016. We will be continuously publishing updates as the Board of Elections announces additional information about candidates who have filed for various races.
As expected, a bevy of candidates have filed to run for president in Ohio, including our own governor, John Kasich. Other Republican candidates include current frontrunner Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum. Of the Republican candidates, Donald Trump is the only candidate who has not signed a pledge that he will refrain from running as an independent if he does not win the GOP nomination. He has also repeatedly stated that he may run as an independent or third-party candidate if he feels slighted by the Republican Party. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has said that if Trump files as a Republican, under Ohio law, he will be unable to later run for president as an independent. Ohio law requires independent candidates to disaffiliate with any political party “in good faith” — a standard Secretary Husted says Trump cannot meet if he first files a declaration of candidacy as a Republican.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, Bernie Sanders, Willie Wilson and Martin O’Malley have all filed as candidates.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman (R) faces reelection in 2016 with a challenge from two Republicans in the March primary: Donald Eckhart and Melisa Strzala. Eckhart previously ran for a state Senate seat in 2004 and for Congress in 2008 — both times as an independent candidate. Ms. Strzala is running as a Tea Party candidate. Three Democrats are also running for the office, including former governor Ted Strickland (D) and P.G. Sittenfeld (D), a member of Cincinnati City Council. Strickland and Sittenfeld will face off in the March primary election. Strickland has the support of the Ohio Democratic Party, while Sittenfeld has been highlighted as a “fresh face” and person to watch within the party. The third Democrat running is Kelly Prather. Joseph Demare is the Green Party candidate.
U.S. House of Representatives
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Ohio will see two races of interest. House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester) stepped down from his post earlier this fall, and 17 candidates have filed to fill his seat in Ohio’s 8thCongressional District. Candidates include current Ohio Representative Tim Derickson (R-Oxford), who represents the 53rd District in the Ohio General Assembly, and Ohio Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City), who represents the 5th Ohio Senate District. Also running is Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds. Reynolds narrowly missed being endorsed by the Butler County Republican Party — he received 59 percent of the vote, but needed 60 percent for the endorsement. Other candidates of note include J.D. Winteregg, a teacher from Troy, Ohio, who unsuccessfully challenged Boehner in the 2014 primary election, and Lee Wong, a West Chester Township Trustee. Other challengers include Democrat Cory Foister, Libertarian Robert Coogan and James J. Condit, Jr. from the Green Party.
In Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is facing a primary challenge from former Representative Steve Kraus from the 89th General Assembly District. Kraus was removed from his post in the Ohio House of Representatives in July after he was convicted of a fifth-degree felony theft charge. Kraus faces a primary challenge in March from Republicans Charles Barrett, Donald Larson and Joel Lieske.
Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Supreme Court has two open seats for the 2016 election as Justices Paul E. Pfeifer and Judith Ann Lanzinger step down at the end of next year due to mandatory judicial retirement at age 70.
Seeking the seat vacated by Justice Pfeifer is Judge Pat DeWine, a Republican who currently sits on the 1stDistrict Court of Appeals in Hamilton County and is the son of Attorney General Mike DeWine. Judge DeWine faces a challenge from Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice, a Democrat who has served on the 11th District Court of Appeals since 2003.
Judge Pat Fischer, a Republican who also serves on the 1st District Court of Appeals in Hamilton County, is seeking to fill Justice Lanzinger’s seat. He will face Judge Colleen O’Toole in a primary election. Judge O’Toole currently sits on the 11th District Court of Appeals. Judge John P. O’Donnell is a Democrat also running for Justice Lanzinger’s seat. He is a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge and unsuccessfully ran for the Ohio Supreme Court in 2014 against Justice Judith French.
In addition to the two open seats, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor will be running unopposed to retain her seat.
Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) faces term limits and will be vacating his seat in the 8th Senate District. Current Representative Lou Terhar (R-Cincinnati) has filed to replace Senator Seitz and will run unopposed in the primary and general elections. Senator Seitz has filed as a candidate in the 30th House District, which Terhar currently represents. Senator Seitz will face Democrat Mark Childers in the general election.
In Senate District 12, two former Republican state representatives have filed to replace term-limited Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina). Representative Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Representative John Adams (R-Sidney) will face off in the March primary election.
There are several familiar names running to replace Senator Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) in Ohio’s 24th Senate District. Representative Mike Dovilla (R-Berea), Representative Nan Baker (R-Westlake) and former Representative Matt Dolan (R) have filed as candidates. The winner of the March primary will face Democrat Emily Hagan in the general election. Hagan is the niece of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan, former Representative Bob Hagan and current Representative Michele Lapore-Hagan of the 58th House District.
Ohio House of Representatives
In the 51st House District, incumbent Representative Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) faces a primary challenge from former Representative Courtney Combs. Representative Retherford did not receive the endorsement of the Butler County Party, which backed Representative Combs for the seat instead. Also running for the seat is former Representative Greg Jolivette, who represented the district from 1997-2004.
In western Ohio, long-time legislator Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) chose to not run for another term. Senate President Keith Faber has filed to run for the seat and move to the Ohio House of Representatives. He will face Democrat Ed Huff, Jr., in the general election in the Republican-leaning district.
Former Representative and former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern has filed to run for Ottawa County Commissioner, a position he held from 1993-1999. Also running for the seat is Republican Mark Stahl.
In Franklin County, we understand that the race for Franklin County Prosecutor — the office that handles ethics issues referred by the Ohio Ethics Commission — will likely include current Prosecutor Ron O’Brien and Zach Klein, who serves as a member of Columbus City Council.