Issue 1 defeated in Ohio

Welcome to the Thursday, August 10, 2023, Brew. 

By: Juan Garcia de Paredes

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Issue 1 defeated in Ohio
  2. Mississippi state executive primaries results round-up
  3. Arkansas veto referendum on LEARNS Act falls short of required signatures

Issue 1 defeated in Ohio

On Tuesday, Ohio voters defeated Issue 1, an amendment that would have established a 60% vote requirement to approve future state constitutional amendments. With 95% of the vote in, election results showed the amendment losing 57%-43%.

We wrote quite a bit about Ohio Issue 1 ahead of Tuesday’s vote. In case you missed it, click here for a recap of our coverage.

According to the secretary of state’s office, voter turnout was 38.5%. That’s nearly five times the turnout of last year’s Aug. 2 state legislative primaries, which was 8%. For comparison, general election turnout in even years during the last decade has ranged from 40.6% in 2014 to 74% in 2020.

The campaigns supporting Issue 1, which included the Protect Our Constitution PAC, as well as Protect Women Ohio and Protect Our Kids Ohio, had raised $15.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions as of July 19. The largest donors included Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, contributing $6.35 million, and Richard Uihlein, contributing $4 million. Meanwhile, the campaign opposing Issue 1, the One Person One Vote PAC, reported raising $16.6 million in cash and in-kind contributions. The largest donors included the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which contributed $2.6 million, and the Tides Foundation, which contributed $1.87 million.

Following Tuesday’s results, One Person One Vote, the group that led the campaign against Issue 1, said, “Tonight was a major victory for Democracy in Ohio. The majority still rules in Ohio, and the people’s power has been preserved – because Ohio voters showed up and overwhelmingly voted down Issue 1. Voters saw Issue 1 for what it was: a deceptive power grab designed to silence their voices and diminish their voting power. We defeated Issue 1 because an enormous coalition that spanned traditional ideological divides came together to defend democracy.” 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), who supported Issue 1, said, “I’m grateful that nearly 1.3 million Ohioans stood with us in this fight, but this is only one battle in a long war. Unfortunately, we were dramatically outspent by dark money billionaires from California to New York, and the giant ‘for sale’ sign still hangs on Ohio’s constitution. … The radical activists that opposed Issue 1 are already planning amendments to shut parents out of a child’s life-altering medical procedure, force job killing wage mandates on small businesses, prevent law abiding citizens from protecting their families and remove critical protections for our first responders.”

Issue 1 would have made three changes to the laws governing citizen-initiated constitutional amendments in Ohio: 

  • Require a 60% vote for voters to approve a constitutional amendment, whether citizen-initiated or from the General Assembly. Currently, a constitutional amendment requires a simple majority vote (50% plus one) to be approved in Ohio.
  • Require campaigns for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments to collect signatures from each of the state’s 88 counties. This would have been an increase from the current requirement of 44 of the state’s 88 counties. Campaigns need to collect a number of signatures equal to 5% of the vote in the last gubernatorial election in each of the counties. This is known as a signature distribution requirement.
  • Eliminate the cure period of 10 days for campaigns to gather additional signatures for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments when the original submission did not have enough valid signatures.

Issue 1 would also have affected constitutional amendments already certified for the ballot, including an amendment regarding abortion and reproductive decisions on the Nov. 7, ballot. Issue 1 would have raised the voter requirement to approve the abortion-related amendment from 50% to 60%.

Rhiannon Carnes, a representative for Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, a coalition supporting the November abortion amendment, said, “Ohioans saw Issue 1 for what it was — an attempt to deny our families a voice, even when it comes to our most personal decisions.”

Protect Women Ohio, the campaign opposing the November abortion amendment that also raised funds in support of Issue 1, said that Tuesday’s election results “prove exactly why Ohio’s constitution needs and deserves additional protections” and said they would “defeat the ACLU in November.”

Click here to read more reactions to Tuesday’s vote. 

Ohio is one of 26 states that have a citizen-initiative process. 

If Issue 1 had passed, Ohio would have joined Florida in requiring a 60% vote to approve citizen-initiated constitutional amendments. New Hampshire, which doesn’t have an initiative process, has a higher threshold — a two-thirds vote — for legislatively referred constitutional amendments. 

Eleven states currently require more than a simple majority to approve a constitutional amendment.

Issue 1 would also have made Ohio the only state where campaigns must gather signatures from every county. Ohio counties range in size from the 1.32 million residents of Franklin County to the 12,565-person Vinton County. Colorado and Nevada also have signature distribution requirements requiring campaigns to gather signatures from certain subdivisions of the state—state Senate districts in Colorado and congressional districts in Nevada.

Keep reading 

Mississippi state executive primaries results round-up 

Primary voters in Mississippi also went to the polls on Tuesday. They picked nominees for all 52 districts in the state senate and all 122 districts in the state house. We’ll bring you more analysis on those results in the coming days, but as of this writing, at least three state house races will go to a runoff on Aug. 29.

Voters also picked their nominees for a number of state executive offices, including Governor, Lt. Governor, and two new members of the state’s public service commission. Let’s go over some of those key results. 

Lieutenant Governor

In one of the closest statewide races of the night, incumbent Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R) defeated State Sen. Chris McDaniel and Tiffany Longino in the Republican primary. With 93% of the vote in, Hosemann led McDaniel 52% to 43.1%. Longino had 5.2%.

Hosemann was first elected Lt. Governor in 2019. Before serving as Lt. Governor, he served as Mississippi’s Secretary of State from 2008 to 2020. He will face Democrat D. Ryan Glober in the general election. 

McDaniel has previously challenged incumbent Republicans in primaries. In 2014, he ran for the U.S. Senate against then-incumbent Thad Cochran (R). McDaniel finished ahead of Cochran in the Republican primary, but lost to Cochran 51% to 49% in the primary runoff. McDaniel refused to concede and unsuccessfully challenged the results in court. 


Incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves (R) advanced to the general election after he defeated John Witcher and David Hardigree in the Republican primary for governor. With 93% of the vote counted, Reeves led Witcher 74.5% to 17.5%. Hardigree had 7.6%. 

Reeves will face Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) in the general election. Presley has served on the commission since 2008. Independent Gwendolyn Gray is also running. 

Reeves said, “The national Democrats think Mississippi is theirs for the taking. … They’ve circled our state, and they’ve hand-picked their candidate. … These national Democrats think they can use him to inject their liberal ideology into Mississippi under the guise of being a moderate.”

Presley, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, said, “This race is going to come down to … which candidate, and I believe that’s me, has got guts and the backbone to stand up for the people of Mississippi and which candidate has consistently showed us that he will do whatever his lobbyist buddies want him to do and will not stand up for the people of Mississippi.”

Mississippi’s last Democratic governor was Ronnie Musgrove, who served from 2000 to 2004. 

Mississippi Public Service Commission

As a result of Tuesday’s primaries, the Mississippi Public Service Commission will welcome at least two new members next year.  

In a key race we were watching, Chris Brown defeated Tanner Newman in the Republican primary for the commission’s Northern District seat, the one Presley currently holds. No Democrat is running, meaning Brown is guaranteed to succeed Presley on the commission. 

With 92% of the votes counted, Brown led Newman 61% to 39%. 

Brown is a business owner who has served in the Mississippi House of Representatives since 2012. Newman is the Director of Development Services for the City of Tupelo and a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

The Mississippi Freedom Caucus and the group Veterans for Trump endorsed Brown. The Mississippi Association of REALTORS Political Action Committee and the Home Builders Association of Mississippi BuildPAC endorsed Newman.

Meanwhile, in the Republican primary for the Southern District seat, Nelson Carr defeated incumbent Dane Maxwell, the commission’s chairman. No Democratic candidate filed to run for the Southern District seat, meaning Carr is also guaranteed to win the general election. 

In the Central District, incumbent Brent Bailey will face Democrat DeKeither Stamps in the general election. Both were unopposed in their respective party primaries. 

The Mississippi Public Service Commission is a three-member executive board that regulates telecommunications, electric, gas, water, and sewer utilities in Mississippi. The commission was established in 1884. Public service commissioners are elected to four-year terms with no term limits.

Other races

Elsewhere in Mississippi, voters also picked their party nominees for Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Insurance Commissioner, and Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner. Click the link below to view all of the Mississippi state executive races we followed.

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Arkansas veto referendum on LEARNS Act falls short of required signatures

On Aug. 4, Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston (R) announced that a campaign seeking to place a veto referendum on the 2024 ballot to repeal the state’s LEARNS Act failed to collect the 54,422 signatures from 50 of Arkansas’ 75 counties required to qualify for the ballot. 

The LEARNS Act created the Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program to provide taxpayer funding to students for private tuition and other educational expenses. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed the bill into law on March 8. 

Thurston said that the Citizens for Arkansas Public Education and Students (CAPES), the group seeking to put the repeal referendum on the ballot, submitted 53,444 signatures, falling 978 short of the number required.

Thurston said CAPES also did not submit an official affidavit indicating the total number of signatures being filed. Thurston said, “Instead of the required affidavit, you submitted a document asserting that you collected only 53,675 signatures and only met the county distribution requirement in 48 counties. Thus, your own submission represented that you failed to meet both the total signature and county distribution requirements.”

Steve Grappe, executive director of CAPES, said, “We are very disappointed they did not show we met the minimum totals. We are confident that if we had the time the Constitution allows, we would have far exceeded the minimum.”

The Arkansas LEARNS Act Referendum was one of 14 potential statewide education-related measures we’re watching in 2024. Five other education-related measures have been certified for the 2024 ballot. 

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