Democrats could flip the Ohio Supreme Court this fall, but they’d need a clean sweep

Candidate filing closed on Dec. 20 for Ohio’s March 19 primary, which will feature a number of important races. Below, you’ll find our summaries of all the top contenders in all the key contests.

If you’re looking for lists of candidates, though, you’ll have to do a little legwork. While the Ohio secretary of state’s office has a list of candidates for the U.S. Senate and the state Supreme Court, anyone running for the U.S. House and the state legislature is required to file with the county that makes up the largest proportion of their district. The state doesn’t compile this information, so you’ll have to check out individual county websites, which are linked here.

OH Supreme Court: Republicans hold a 4-3 majority in the Ohio Supreme Court, so for Democrats to flip control, they need to sweep the three seats that are up this year. All contests are statewide races where the candidates’ party affiliations will be included on the ballot, but there are some important differences between them.

Republican Justice Joe Deters was appointed to fill a vacancy by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine following the 2022 elections, but rather than campaign for the remaining two years in his term, he’s decided to take on a fellow justice, Democrat Melody Stewart, for a full six-year term. Democratic Justice Michael Donnelly, meanwhile, has drawn a challenge from Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan in the general election.

As for the seat that Deters is leaving behind, two Democratic members of the state Court of Appeals are facing off in a primary. Lisa Forbes is running on a slate with the two incumbents that the state Democratic Party announced in November, while Terri Jamison, who lost to Republican Justice Pat Fischer 57-43 in 2022, launched a second bid at the filing deadline. The one Republican campaigning for this seat is Franklin County Judge Dan Hawkins.

OH-Sen: Rich guy Bernie Moreno has been the apparent GOP front-runner to take on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown ever since he picked up Donald Trump’s endorsement last month, a status he cemented after the radical anti-tax Club for Growth also gave him its backing on Wednesday.

Trump has long had a tumultuous relationship with the Club, which spent the past year unsuccessfully trying to recruit Rep. Warren Davidson to run here. But there may now be a thaw: The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Club “has contacted Trump advisers looking for a détente,” though the story didn’t mention this race as part of that effort.

Moreno’s two main intraparty foes are Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who insisted in August that he was “likely” to earn Trump’s backing, and state Sen. Matt Dolan, who came in third in the 2022 primary for the state’s other Senate seat after calling for his party to move on from Trump. Politico reports that Moreno has so far spent $4 million on TV, while Dolan, who is also self-funding much of his effort, has deployed $1.7 million. LaRose, by contrast, has not run any television spots yet.

OH-01: Freshman Democratic Rep. Greg Landsman faces one Republican, local prosecutor Orlando Sonza, in a Cincinnati-based seat that favored Joe Biden 53-45 in 2020. Sonza, who ran a quixotic 2022 campaign for a safely blue state Senate seat, ended September with only $75,000 in the bank, so his party is hoping that he did far better in the fourth quarter. (New fundraising reports are due at the FEC on Jan. 31.)

OH-02: Rep. Brad Wenstrup unexpectedly announced his retirement in mid-November, leading to a pileup of 11 fellow Republicans who are now campaigning to replace him. This southern Ohio constituency backed Donald Trump by a huge 72-27 margin.

The only current elected officials in the contest are a pair of state senators, Niraj Antani and Shane Wilkin, though Antani represents a constituency in the Dayton suburbs, far from the 2nd District. A pair of self-funding businessmen are running as well: Tim O’Hara, whom Axios reports will throw down $750,000, and David Taylor, who says he’s self-funded $1 million.

The field also includes OneOhio Recovery Foundation chair Larry Kidd, Clermont County party chair Charles Tassell, and Kim Georgeton, a far-right activist who lost a nasty 2022 primary for the state House.

OH-06: GOP Rep. Bill Johnson will resign Jan. 21 to become president of Youngstown State University, and while a special election hasn’t yet been scheduled, a trio of Republicans are competing for the regular two-year term. The GOP field for this 64-35 Trump seat in eastern Ohio consists of state Sen. Michael Rulli, state Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus, and chiropractor Rick Tsai.

OH-09: Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who is the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, is one of the GOP’s top targets in the nation. But Republicans have to sort through an especially messy primary—even by their standards—before they can concentrate on flipping this 51-48 Trump seat in northwestern Ohio.

For months, the main candidates were J.R. Majewski, the QAnon ally who lost to Kaptur 57-43 last cycle, and former state Rep. Craig Riedel, who lost the 2022 primary to Majewski. Riedel’s standing took a massive hit after he bashed Donald Trump in December, which reportedly prompted Speaker Mike Johnson and his allies to recruit state Rep. Derek Merrin after deciding Riedel was too damaged to beat Majewski. Napoleon Mayor Steve Lankenau is also running, but he’s attracted little attention.

OH-13: Democratic Rep. Emilia Sykes is seeking a second term in a 51-48 Biden seat in the Akron and Canton areas, and three Republicans are competing to take her on. Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg has the backing of Sen. J.D. Vance, while former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin is campaigning to return to office for the first time in over a decade. Rounding out the field is Richard Morckel, who waged two little-noticed bids for Congress in 2016 and 2020.

OH-15: Republican Rep. Mike Carey faces notable opposition in the southwestern Columbus area from Democratic state Rep. Adam Miller, but Miller faces an uphill battle in a seat that supported Donald Trump 53-46.

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