A rundown of Tuesday’s battleground primary results

Welcome to the Thursday, March 21, Brew. 

By: Mercedes Yanora

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

  1. A rundown of Tuesday’s battleground primary results
  2. Voters in North Dakota to decide on congressional age limit ballot initiative on June 11
  3. Learn about forecasting this year’s closest races with CNalysis’ Chaz Nuttycombe in the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

A rundown of Tuesday’s battleground primary results 

Illinois and Ohio held their statewide primaries on Tuesday, March 19. Here’s a rundown of some of the battleground primaries we covered:

In Ohio House elections, eight of 12 censured Republicans win primaries, four lose

There were 29 contested Republican primaries in Tuesday’s Ohio House elections, the most since 2018. A major issue surrounding those primaries was the last election for speaker of the house. It split the Republican caucus and the Ohio Republican Party’s central committee censured 22 Republican House members

Twelve of those censured incumbents faced primaries on Tuesday. Eight won and four lost. 

Here’s the background: 

After Republicans won a 67-32 margin in the 2022 elections, 22 Republicans joined with all 32 Democrats to elect Jason Stephens (R) speaker over the winner of the Republican caucus’ internal vote, Derek Merrin (R). The Ohio Republican Party’s central committee voted to censure all 22 House Republicans who voted for Stephens following his election.

Nineteen incumbents — more than one-third of those seeking re-election — faced primary challengers in 2024, compared to 13 in 2022 and six in 2020. This was the highest rate at which incumbent Ohio House Republicans faced primary challenges since at least 2012. 

Censured incumbents faced primary challenges at a rate more than three times that of non-censured incumbents. Seventeen of the 22 censured Republicans ran for re-election. Twelve of the 17 (70.6%) faced primary challengers compared to seven of the 34 non-censured incumbents (20.6%).

Ballotpedia identified 14 of the 29 contested Republican primaries as battleground primaries, all but one of which had an incumbent running. Of that total, 12 were races where the Ohio Republican Party voted to censure the incumbent.

ABC 5’s Morgan Trau said that House Speaker Stephens would likely remain speaker because he only lost four of the 22 censured Republican seats. She wrote, “To break it down further, Stephens is looking at 22 Republican votes and 32 Democratic votes once again. That equals 54 members. Thus, the speaker [could have afforded] to lose four and still hit 50.” 

Donovan O’Neil, Americans for Prosperity Ohio’s executive director, said, “I would say overall that it was a good night for [Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R)], the reason being that [the Stephens faction] spent a lot of money defending a handful of members and still lost four members. That’s a hit to his core supporters.” Huffman is running uncontested for the Ohio House and is expected to run for the speakership.

Looking beyond battlegrounds, and at all 19 primaries with contested incumbents, 14 won their primaries,  and five were defeated. This was the highest number of defeated incumbents since Ballotpedia began gathering data in 2010.

To read more about these primaries, click here

Bernie Moreno wins Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio 

Bernie Moreno (R) defeated Frank LaRose (R) and Matt Dolan (R) in Ohio’s Republican Senate primary. Moreno will face incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in the general election. 

Moreno is a businessman with a background in auto sales. As of March 15, 14 U.S. Senators, six U.S. House members, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R), Club for Growth PAC, and former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Moreno.  

Before the primary, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball each rated the general election a toss-up. Brown won re-election 53%-47% in 2018, but other recent statewide elections have favored Republicans. Brown is the only Democrat to win statewide in Ohio since 2006. This does not include the state supreme court.

To read more about this primary, click here.

U.S. House elections  

We followed four battleground elections for U.S. House districts on Tuesday night, three in Illinois and one in Ohio.

The next statewide primary is in Pennsylvania on April 23. 

Keep reading

Voters in North Dakota to decide on congressional age limit ballot initiative on June 11

A citizen initiative to establish a congressional age limit is on the ballot in North Dakota’s primary election on June 11.

The initiative, which is the first of its kind, would prohibit anyone being elected or appointed to the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives if they would reach the age of 81 by Dec. 31 of the year before their term ends. If a court rules the age limit is unenforceable, then the measure has a provision that any candidate who would otherwise be disqualified due to the age limit would not be allowed to appear on the ballot for nomination or election to the House or Senate. However, if a court decision mandates that such a candidate must be included on the ballot, the initiative requires that a note be added next to the candidate’s name saying the “Candidate would be [age] years old by end of term.”

Jared Hendrix, the sponsor of the initiative and chairman of Retire Congress North Dakota, also led the campaign that sponsored a term limits initiative, Measure 1, in 2022. Voters approved Measure 1, which limited the governor to two terms and state legislators to eight years in the state House and eight years in the state Senate.

According to campaign finance reports through Feb. 9, Retire Congress North Dakota has received $13,422 in in-kind contributions from U.S. Term Limits. 

Hendrix said, “Serving in Congress has become a lifelong occupation for many members. Sadly, Congress has gone from the world’s greatest deliberative body to one of the nation’s best assisted living facilities.”

Ballotpedia has not identified a campaign opposing the ballot measure. 

University of North Dakota Professor Mark Jendrysik said the initiative could serve as a test case to determine whether the U.S. Supreme Court would allow individual states to set congressional age limits.

In 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in U.S. Term Limits Inc. v. Thornton that states cannot impose qualifications for prospective members of Congress that are stricter than those specified in the Constitution. Mitchell Hamline Law School Professor Jason Marisam said the initiative appears to be unconstitutional under Thornton.

In North Dakota, 129 statewide measures have been on the ballot between 1985 and 2020. Voters approved 59 of them and defeated 68. 

Keep reading 

Learn about forecasting this year’s closest races with CNalysis’ Chaz Nuttycombe in the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

On the Ballot, Ballotpedia’s weekly podcast, is taking a deep dive this week into election forecasting. 

In this episode, Chaz Nuttycombe, the co-founder and director of the election forecasting website CNalysis, returns to the show to talk to Ballotpedia Podcast Producer Frank Festa. They discuss some of the most competitive races Nuttycombe is watching this year, as well as his methodology, potential partisan changes, the effect of redistricting, presidential predictions, and polling accuracy.

Nuttycombe is an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech, and has been forecasting elections in his home state of Virginia since high school. Major publications like The New York Times, The Atlantic, and ABC News, to name a few, have cited CNalysis.

And remember, new episodes of On the Ballot drop every Thursday afternoon. If you’re reading this on the morning of March 21, there’s still time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your preferred podcast app and catch this episode on election forecasting!

Keep reading