Signs are pointing to a GOP sweep of the statewide races, but there are other key races to watch on Tuesday night. Will depressed Democrat turnout increase Republican majorities in the Ohio House and Senate?
Based on our own areas and analysis, plus this article from Jim Siegel, here are some key races across the state to keep an eye on tonight.
Ohio House of Representatives
Ohio House District 55 – GOP pickup opportunity
Democrat Matt Lundy is term-limited and this district in my home county of Lorain leans slightly Democratic. Republican Nathan Manning, son of State Senator Gayle Manning, is facing Democrat Brendan Mackin. OHROC smells opportunity and has been advertising heavily for Manning on TV. Check out the website Slackin’ Mackin.
Ohio House District 5 – GOP pickup opportunity
Probably the strongest possibility for a Republican pickup. Romney won this district, which is all of Columbiana County, by 12 points but Democrat Nick Barborak won the seat narrowly in 2012. Republican Tim Ginter attempts to take the district for the good guys.
Ohio House District 19 – 3 way race, GOP held seat
Anne Gonzalez would normally have nothing to worry about here in Northeastern Franklin County, but Libertarian Chad Monnin has spent over $250,000 of his own money. This might help Democrat Michael Johnston.
Ohio House District 20 – GOP pickup opportunity
This will be a tough one for Republican Dan Mefford to pick off in Southeastern Franklin County. But low Dem turnout could seriously hurt Heather Bishoff.
Ohio House District 24 – Dem pickup opportunity
Republican Stephanie Kunze won this evenly divided district in 2012. But there is a Libertarian in the race, so this will be a close one between her and Kathy Hoff.
Ohio House District 28 – GOP pickup opportunity
This Cincinnati area district leans slightly Republican but has been held by Democrat Connie Pillich for 8 years, who is term-limited and running for treasurer. Democrats are high on their candidate Micah Kamrass, who is facing Jonathan Dever.
Ohio House District 36 – Dem pickup opportunity
This district went slightly for Obama in 2012 but is currently held by Republican Anthony DiVitis. Democrat Paula Prentice is challenging.
Ohio House District 37 – Dem pickup opportunity
Rep. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, one of the more conservative members of the House, holds this evenly divided district. Democrats are challenging her with attorney David Worhatch. This would be a bigger race to watch if Democrats had more money and more momentum.
Ohio House District 43 – GOP pickup opportunity
Republicans thought they had a chance in 2012 to knock off Rep. Roland Winburn, D-Dayton, but House Democrats spent heavily, and he won by nine points. Winburn won the portion of the district in Montgomery County by 10,700 votes but lost Preble County by 6,200. If Montgomery County turnout drops off in this nonpresidential election, Republican attorney Jeff Rezabek could win it.
Ohio House District 60 – GOP pickup opportunity
This Lake County district also tilts Democratic, but business owner George Phillips could knock off Democrat John Rogers if Democrat turnout is seriously depressed. We know George and he is running a strong campaign.
Ohio House District 79 – Dem pickup opportunity
Democrats tried for years to win this politically even district, but moderate Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, held it firm. McGregor is leaving because of term limits, and Democrats think they have a shot with Darrell Jackson, a deputy sheriff. They are hoping voters see Republican Kyle Koehler, a manufacturing executive, as too conservative for the district.
Ohio House District 95 – Dem pickup opportunity
Democrat Charlie Daniels could make Rep. Andy Thompson sweat in this swing district. But, like others on this list, a lack of Democratic money and trouble at the top of the ticket could weigh in here.
Ohio House District 99 – GOP pickup opportunity
Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, will be tough to beat here. But if the tide is strong enough, Republicans think Nancy McArthur, a Chardon councilwoman, has a shot.
Ohio House District 89 – Bonus GOP pickup opportunity
This is the race where Republican Steve Kraus is challenging ODP Chairman Chris Redfern. We’ve covered this race a couple times. This is a very blue district, but Redfern has lost a lot of support here among the unions and has angered many Democrats. I still think beating Redfern is a long shot, but in this cycle, who knows what could happen?
Ohio Senate district 13 – Dem pickup opportunity
This district where I live is currently represented by Republican Gayle Manning. It’s a blue district but Manning should still win reelection easily thanks to her strong fundraising and significant spending by the caucus to protect this seat. She’s being challenged by Elyria councilman Marcus Madison. Madison is an impressive young candidate but he’s overmatched by Manning’s fundraising, experience and name recognition. I don’t expect a loss here.
3rd District, Franklin County
The tremendous Senate Republican fundraising advantage is on display here as Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Minerva Park, has been on television and featured in multiple mailers in his race against Democrat Star Johnson. On paper, this is a very competitive district. But Bacon is a solid, veteran candidate, and Democrats were unable to recruit a top challenger.
The district includes Westerville, New Albany, Gahanna and Groveport and parts of southern and western Columbus.
5th District, Montgomery, Miami, Preble and Darke counties
Most agree this is the Senate Democrats’ best chance for a pickup. Reworked by redistricting, it includes most of Dayton along with all or parts of three surrounding rural counties.
Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, won the seat from the Democrats in 2010. The district continues to lean slightly Democratic, through Romney won
52 percent of the vote here in 2012. Democrats think they have a strong chance with Dee Gillis, a Tipp City councilwoman and small-business owner.
9th District, Hamilton County
Senate Republicans are largely playing defense, but with an abundance of resources and a quality candidate, they are taking a serious shot at this seat which, under normal circumstances, they should have no shot at winning.
The open seat has about a 70 percent Democratic index. But this is an unusual contest — a rare general election legislative contest between two black candidates, and one in which Cincinnati Right to Life endorsed both and then rescinded its endorsements based on recent comments made by each.
Republican Charlie Winburn, a veteran Cincinnati councilman who was the second-leading vote getter in 2013, raised an eye-popping $247,000 from November through June. He squares off against Democrat Cecil Thomas, a former councilman and retired police officer who has raised less than $10,000.
Republicans held the seat when Janet Howard won in 1994. She served one term before she was defeated in 1998 by Mark Mallory, now the mayor of Cincinnati.
Cuyahoga County Executive
Former Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish is Ed Fitzgerald’s pick for the job he no longer wanted when he chose to begin his disastrous campaign for governor. Republican Jack Schron, a Cleveland business leader and 28-year Army veteran would bring refreshing change to the normally Democrat dominated Cuyahoga County government.
Schron has the endorsement of many local Democrats. But it’s still Cuyahoga County, which usually means a cakewalk for Democrats.
Lorain County Commissioner
Yes, another Lorain County race. Hey, it’s my blog, right?
Commissioner Tom Williams is only the second Republican elected here in decades. He’s being challenged by known liar Matt Lundy, who needs a new job since he is term limited in the House.
Williams has earned some Democrat endorsements and was endorsed by Lorain County’s largest newspaper, the Chronicle-Telegram. He’s running a very strong campaign and has a ton of awesome supporters volunteering.
Lorain County is very challenging for Republicans, however. This is expected to be a very close race.