Preview of Tomorrow's Primary in Ohio

The primary season kicks off for real tomorrow, as voters in Indiana and Ohio will complete their states’ nomination process.

The only other place to have voted is Texas, holding their traditional March primary on the first day of that month. Only a few races remain as the candidates who failed to reach 50% in March toil toward a runoff election scheduled for May 24.


Indiana and Ohio begin a series of primary elections where we will see a total of 30 states completing their respective nomination processes by the end of June. Beginning tomorrow, primary elections will be held on eight of nine consecutive Tuesdays, the only respite coming on May 31, immediately succeeding the Memorial Day holiday.


Today we look at the exciting Ohio US Senate Republican primary and the Buckeye State’s key congressional nomination contests. 


Polling has been prevalent in the Ohio GOP Senate race featuring five viable candidates. Former President Donald Trump’s late endorsement of best-selling author J.D. Vance has propelled him from being in the trailing position to topping the field in five of the nine April publicly released polls. Seven different pollsters conducted the nine studies.


The most recent survey, from the Trafalgar Group (4/29-5/1; 1,081 OH likely Republican primary voters; combination of live interview, interactive voice response system, and online response), projects Mr. Vance holding a small lead at 26%, while state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) a self-funding minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians MLB club, and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel follow with 22 and 21%, respectively. Businessman Mike Gibbons, who consistently led during the middle phase of the campaign and former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken are falling back. They record 13 and 6%, respectively, on the Trafalgar poll.


From the nine April polls, Vance has led in five, Mandel two, with Dolan and Gibbons claiming the first position in one apiece. It seems clear that both Messrs. Vance and Dolan have the upward momentum, while Mr. Gibbons and Ms. Timken are falling back. Mr. Mandel appears to have reached his polling ceiling as he moves very little in the most recent studies. He falls between 18 and 22% in five of the last six surveys.  The bottom line is this race is still fluid heading into election day.


For the Democrats, US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) is the clear favorite. He should easily defeat former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official and 2020 congressional candidate Morgan Harper in tomorrow’s primary.  


Some key November congressional races will be formed tomorrow. Cincinnati’s competitive 1st District virtually has its nominees. Veteran US Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) will defend his increasing Democratic district (now D+3 under the new Ohio congressional plan according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization) against Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman (D).  This could become a national congressional campaign.


In the open 7th District that includes some of the outer Cleveland suburbs, former Trump White House staffer Max Miller, who moved into this district after the second congressional redistricting map significantly changed the 13th CD in which he was originally running, is the clear favorite for the Republican nomination. Incumbent Rep. Bob Gibbs* (R-Lakeville) announced his retirement after the ballots were printed, so any vote cast for him tomorrow will not be counted.  


Rep. Gibbs decided to opt out largely in protest to how the Ohio state Supreme Court has handled the redistricting process. Mr. Miller, once crowned the Republican nominee, will be favored in the Autumn race.


Veteran Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), the longest serving Democrat in the House (first elected in 1982), will learn who she will face in what promises to be a competitive general election. State Rep. Craig Riedel (R-Defiance) and state Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) are in a competitive primary with two other minor GOP candidates. Tomorrow’s winner faces Rep. Kaptur in a seat that has moved toward the Republicans (R+6) since redistricting eliminated the Cleveland portion of this CD. Ms. Kaptur’s current district is rated a D+16. This will be a race to watch in November.


In Cleveland’s 11th District, Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Warrensville Heights) won the special election to replace then-Rep. Marcia Fudge (D) who resigned from the House to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Ms. Brown upset former state Senator and Bernie Sanders for President national co-chair Nina Turner in the November 2021 replacement election. She now defends the seat in a Democratic primary re-match.


The open 13th CD that contains the city of Akron, some of the Cleveland southern outer suburbs, and Republican rural areas, will be feature a tight general election. The 538 organization rates the seat R+2.  Democrats have already coalesced around state Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), while seven Republicans are fighting for the nomination that will be decided tomorrow. This will be another key general election campaign.


Columbus area Rep. Mike Carey (R) also won his seat in a 2021 special election. He replaced resigned Rep. Steve Stivers (R). Though the new 15th CD is more Democratic than the current lines (the new district rates R+12), Mr. Carey’s most formidable Democratic opponent, Franklin County Recorder and former 12th District congressional candidate Danny O’Connor, exited the race once the new boundaries took the 15th to the western area beyond Columbus. Therefore, Mr. Carey looks to be in strong position for re-election to his first full term.


Gov. Mike DeWine (R) is on the ballot for a second term. Polling suggests he defeats former US Rep. Jim Renacci and farmer Joe Blystone, but his overall percentage will suggest weakness. If he had only one Republican opponent, survey research indicates that this could have been a tight race. Democrats feature a primary battle between Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.  


We can count on seeing an interesting primary tomorrow evening.  This vote will be a prelude to a highly competitive Ohio general election, where the Buckeye State will once again be one of the key places to determine the national outcome.


* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle. 

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