A final look ahead at Ohio’s upcoming recreational marijuana initiative vote

Welcome to the Wednesday, November 1, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. Ohio voters to decide recreational marijuana legalization initiative next week
  2. Partisan lines drawn in nonpartisan race for Ohio’s Mentor School District
  3. 48 candidates filed for congressional and statewide offices last week

Ohio voters to decide recreational marijuana legalization initiative next week

Ohio could become the 24th state to legalize recreational marijuana if voters approve an initiative on Nov. 7.

We last checked in on this measure back in August, when Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced it would go up to a vote this fall.

Issue 2 would legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and sale of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years or older. It would also establish a 10% tax on marijuana sales, with revenue going to a cannabis social equity and jobs program.

Ohio voters rejected a recreational marijuana legalization initiative in 2015, with 64% voting against it. But that initiative was criticized for potentially creating a marijuana monopoly. 

Consequently, the 2015 initiative did not receive endorsements from pro-legalization PACs like the Marijuana Policy Project, which has endorsed Issue 2 and contributed almost half of the $6.0 million supporters have raised so far.

Issue 2’s opponents include Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the latter of which donated $101,000 opposing the initiative. Overall, opponents have raised $443,000.

One factor that might affect the overall turnout on Nov. 7 is the other measure on the ballot: Issue 1, which would legalize abortion in the state. The Associated Press’s Julie Carr Smyth wrote, “Election officials throughout the state are generally predicting heavier-than-normal turnout for an off-year vote because of the high-profile campaigning over Issue 1.”

According to The Columbus Dispatch’s Kayla Bennett, as of Oct. 30, 200,000 people have already voted in person, and the state had received 110,000 absentee/mail-in ballots. 

That’s up from 192,000 in-person votes and 92,000 absentee/mail-in ballots at the same point before a ballot measure election in Ohio last August.

If voters approve Issue 2, Ohio would become the most populous state with a Republican trifecta to legalize recreational marijuana. It would also result in half the country living in a state with legal, recreational marijuana.

Every state with a Democratic trifecta has legalized recreational marijuana except Hawaii. Nine of these states did so using ballot measures, and seven did so through legislation.

Montana and Missouri are the only states with Republican trifectas that have legalized recreational marijuana, both of which did so using ballot measures. There are pending legalization ballot measures in Florida, Nebraska, and South Dakota, aiming for the 2024 ballot.

Five of the 11 states with divided governments have legalized recreational marijuana. Three used ballot measures, and two used legislation.

Delaware and Minnesota most recently legalized recreational marijuana, with both enacting legislation earlier this year.

Maryland and Missouri are the most recent to do so using ballot measures. In 2022, voters in these states approved initiatives with 67% and 53% of the vote, respectively.

During the same election, voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota rejected legalization initiatives, with 56%, 55%, and 53% voting against the respective proposals. South Dakota previously legalized recreational marijuana in 2020, but the state supreme court found the measure violated the state’s single-subject rule.

Oklahoma voters rejected a legalization initiative 62% to 38% on March 7.

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Partisan lines drawn in nonpartisan race for Ohio’s Mentor School District

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been bringing you deep dives into a handful of school board elections we are watching closely next week in each of the seven states where we are providing comprehensive school board coverage: Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.

Today, we are looking at the Mentor Exempted Village School District in Ohio, located northeast of Cleveland. The district has roughly 7,500 students, making it the 29th largest district in Ohio and the 1,277th largest district in the country. There are more than 13,000 school districts nationwide.

A recent board decision on gender-specific usage of facilities like restrooms and locker rooms is an issue in this race.

Earlier this year, the Ohio Board of Education introduced a resolution opposing federal changes to Title IX, which would extend those protections to transgender students.

In May, the Mentor Board of Education voted 3-2 against a resolution supporting the state board’s efforts to oppose the federal changes to Title IX.

Two of the Mentor board’s five at-large seats are up for election. 

Board President Thomas Tuttle and Member Mary Bryner are the two incumbents whose terms are expiring and who are leaving office. Tuttle voted in favor of supporting the state board’s efforts. Bryner voted against it.

Christine Henninger, Rose Ioppolo, Lauren Marchaza, Gil Martello, and Lyndsie Wall are this year’s candidates.

Ioppolo and Martello addressed the gender-specific facilities topic on their shared website, saying, “We must protect and respect the privacy of every student by … establishing separate restroom and locker room use based on the biological sex of the individual.”

On Oct. 12, the Lake County League of Women Voters hosted a candidate forum, during which Henninger, Marchaza, and Wall responded to a question on the topic.

Here’s a look at their responses:

Henninger: “Listening to our students … [is] something we need to do more, because all I hear are adults talking and not once am I hearing any students … or us asking any students what they need … I don’t think that’s a great way to settle any type of disagreement.”

Marchaza: “It’s important for us to keep an eye on the law … but to remember that these are kids, and we need to create safe spaces for them, for all of them, but especially for vulnerable communities.”

Wall: “We need to stop worrying about if something is law, if it’s not a law, it shouldn’t have to be a law. We shouldn’t have to worry about all of this. What we need to do is just be accepting and kind.”

Ohio’s school board elections are officially nonpartisan, but our research into candidate endorsements illustrates the ideological divide in this race:

Most of Ioppolo and Martello’s endorsements come from conservative individuals and organizations. These include state executives like Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. candidate Frank LaRose (R) and Treasurer Robert Sprague (R). The Lake County GOP and the 1776 Project PAC have also endorsed the pair.

Most of Marchaza and Wall’s endorsements come from liberal individuals and organizations, including three incumbent school board members, the Mentor Teacher Association, and the Lake County Democrats.

While Henninger lists several endorsements on her campaign website, Ballotpedia could not identify an ideological lean for those endorsers.

We also took a look at Ohio’s publicly available voter registration information to get a better idea of the partisan makeup in the Mentor School District.

Ohio voters do not need to register with a party in order to participate in a primary. Sixty-six percent of Mentor’s roughly 44,000 voters are unaffiliated. Twenty percent are registered Republicans, and 14% are registered Democrats.

We conducted similar partisan analyses in Oklahoma and South Dakota earlier this year and will produce more in Colorado, Kansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania over the next month.

Use the links below to revisit the school board deep dives we brought you in previous Brew editions:

You can find all of our battleground school board elections here and learn more about the election in Mentor using the link below.

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48 candidates filed for congressional and statewide offices last week

Last week, 48 candidates filed to run for congressional and state offices. That’s up one from 47 the previous week.

Since the start of the year, we’ve followed an average of 48 candidate filings per week.

This year, we’ve identified 2,059 declared candidates for these offices. At this time in 2021, we had identified 2,289 declared candidates for 2022, 2023, and 2024 races.

Of last week’s declared candidates:

  • 21 are Democratic;
  • 25 are Republican; and,
  • Two are minor party or independent candidates.

Twelve candidates are running for state legislatures, two for attorney general, and one for state supreme court. Most of last week’s candidates—33—are running for Congress: four in the Senate and 29 in the House. Here’s a look at where those congressional candidates filed:

We cover elections for tens of thousands of offices across the country. Part of that work includes keeping tabs on the candidates—both declared and official—running for those offices.

For more information about how we determine candidacies and a full list of 2024 congressional candidates, click the link below.
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