Stories about Ohio

Incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine (R) faces primary challengers in May 3 election

Four candidates are running in the Republican primary election for governor of Ohio on May 3, 2022. Two candidates—incumbent Mike DeWine (R) and Jim Renacci (R)—have led the field in fundraising and media coverage. Politico’s Zach Montellaro and Michael Kruse wrote that the “primary could show just how far [support for Donald Trump (R)], even without the former president’s direct involvement, can take a challenger against a more traditional conservative governor who clashed with the most strident parts of the Republican base during the pandemic.”

Renacci criticized DeWine’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying DeWine “overreacted in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic” and that he “would never have done many of the draconian things that DeWine did.”

DeWine said he wanted to prevent coronavirus deaths because of his pro-life stance and that “[He] had an obligation to listen, which [he] did, to consult and then to make decisions that [he] thought were in the best interests of the people of Ohio.”

DeWine was first elected as governor in 2018. He defeated Mary Taylor (R) in the primary 60% to 40%. DeWine went on to defeat Richard Cordray (D) 50% to 47% in the general. Prior to his election as governor, he had won five statewide elections for other offices: two to serve as Ohio Attorney General, two to serve in the United States Senate, and one to serve as lieutenant governor. On his campaign website, DeWine says he “has governed as a compassionate conservative. He knows that when families are strong, Ohio communities are stronger.”

Renacci, a business owner, represented Ohio’s 16th Congressional District in Congress from 2011 to 2019. In 2018, he won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, defeating Mike Gibbons (R) 47% to 32%. Renacci was defeated in the general election 53% to 47% by incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). In a campaign ad, Renacci said: “We need to dump Ohio’s Cuomo, Mike DeWine, end his Trump-bashing reign, and elect an Ohio first conservative who fights for you. […] When Ohio is first, America is first.”

A Republican has held the Ohio governorship since 2011. The last time an incumbent governor was defeated in Ohio was in 2010, when John Kasich (R) defeated then-Gov. Ted Strickland (D).

In Ohio, gubernatorial candidates select lieutenant gubernatorial candidates as running mates. DeWine is running with incumbent Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted (R) and Renacci is running with film producer Joe Knopp (R).

Ron Hood and Joe Blystone are also running in the gubernatorial primary.

Four Democrats competing in primary for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat

Four candidates are running in the Democratic primary for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat on May 3, 2022. Candidates Morgan Harper and Tim Ryan have received the most media attention. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R), first elected in 2010, is not running for re-election.

Harper is an attorney and former advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Harper is running on a plan she said would create 600,000 clean energy jobs, and would also include federal $15 minimum wage, the PRO Act, Medicare for All, and full student loan debt forgiveness. Harper told The New York Times that her campaign would aim to mobilize Black, women, and young voters. In 2020, Harper ran unsuccessfully for U.S. House in District 3 against U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D).

Ryan was elected to the U.S. House in 2002. Ryan has campaigned on a range of economic issues, including revitalizing the state’s manufacturing industry, a federal $15 minimum wage, the PRO Act, renegotiating existing foreign trade deals, and expanding affordable healthcare. Ryan told CNN that his campaign would “focus like a laser beam on workers.” Ryan was re-elected to represent District 13 in 2020 following an unsuccessful presidential campaign.

Harper and Ryan disagree most on healthcare policy. Harper supports Medicare for All, which would expand Medicare to cover all Americans and replace the existing private health insurance and marketplace options. Ryan supports the creation of a public option, an opt-in insurance plan that all Americans could join. In a 2019 presidential debate, Ryan called Medicare for All a potential disaster for the party. In October 2021, Harper said that universal healthcare was “the only way to protect workers.”

Also running in the primary are Traci Johnson and LaShondra Tinsley.

Donald Trump won Ohio by eight percentage points in 2016 and 2020. Portman won re-election in 2016 by 19 percentage points. Sherrod Brown (D), Ohio’s other U.S. Senator, last won re-election in 2018 by seven percentage points.

Ohio Secretary of State certifies marijuana legalization initiative to the state legislature

The Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced on Jan. 28 that an initiative proposing the legalization of marijuana had submitted enough valid signatures to be presented to the state legislature. 

The initiative would enact a state law to legalize the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home growth, and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older. Adults would be authorized to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals would be able to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household. The initiative would also enact a 10% cannabis tax rate on adult-use sales and dedicate revenue to fund a cannabis social equity and jobs program.

In Ohio, initiated state statutes are indirect, meaning they must be considered by the state legislature. The legislature has four months to adopt, reject, or take no action on the measure. If the legislature rejects the measure or takes no action, sponsors have 90 days following the legislature’s four-month deadline to collect 132,887 additional signatures.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the campaign behind the initiative, submitted an initial round of 206,943 signatures on Dec. 20, 2021. Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced on Jan. 3 that 119,825 signatures were valid–13,062 less than the number required. In Ohio, campaigns are given a one-week cure period to collect additional signatures, meaning the campaign had until Jan. 14, 2022, to submit additional signatures. The campaign announced on Jan. 13 that they had submitted an additional 29,918 signatures.

The secretary of state announced on Jan. 28 that the campaign had collected a total of 136,729 valid signatures, which means the campaign had a signature validity rate of 57.7%.

Tom Haren, a spokesman for the campaign, said, “We are ready and eager to work with Ohio legislators over the next four months to legalize the adult use of marijuana in Ohio.”

Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016. Ohio voters rejected a recreational marijuana initiative in 2015 by a margin of 63.65% to 36.35%.

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Ohio campaign aiming to legalize marijuana submits signatures to send the proposed measure to the state legislature

On Dec. 20, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted 206,943 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office for a ballot initiative aiming to legalize marijuana in the state. 

The measure is an indirect initiated state statute meaning that the state legislature will have an opportunity to pass the law without it going to the ballot. The required number of signatures to place the initiative before the state legislature is 132,887, which is 3% of the votes cast in the preceding gubernatorial election. The initiative petition must also meet the state’s signature distribution requirement, which requires that half of the signature requirement be met within at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. If the state legislature does not act on the proposed law or rejects it, the campaign would have 90 days to collect an additional 132,887 signatures to place the measure on the November 2022 ballot.

The deadline for proposed initiated state statutes to file signature petitions was Dec. 24. The marijuana initiative was the only proposed state statute to be cleared for signature gathering by the Ohio Ballot Board.

Tom Haren, a spokesperson for the campaign, said, “The success of our petition drive shows just how eager Ohioans are to end prohibition and legalize the adult use of marijuana. We look forward to receiving the results of the Secretary of State’s review, and are eager to begin working with legislators on this important issue.” 

The initiative would enact a state law to legalize the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home growth, and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older. Adults could possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals would be able to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household.

The initiative would also enact a 10% cannabis tax rate on adult-use sales with revenue to fund “a cannabis social equity and jobs program” to “provide financial assistance and license application support to individuals most directly and adversely impacted by the enforcement of marijuana-related laws.” It would also fund the community cannabis fund, the substance abuse and addiction fund, and the Division of Cannabis Control (established by the initiative to oversee the state’s cannabis industry).

In 2015, Ohio voters defeated an initiated constitutional amendment that would have legalized the limited sale and use of marijuana and created 10 facilities with exclusive commercial rights to grow marijuana. The vote margin was 63.65% to 36.35%. The initiative was sponsored by ResponsibleOhio PAC.

As of December 2021, 18 states and Washington, D.C., had legalized marijuana for recreational purposes: 12 through citizen initiatives, one through a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, and six through bills approved by state legislatures and signed by governors. An additional 13 states had decriminalized recreational marijuana usage. In those states, while recreational marijuana usage was illegal, violation typically results in a fine rather than arrest or jail time for first-time offenders.

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Ohio enacts new congressional map

Ohio Governor Mike Dewine (R) signed a new congressional map into law on Nov. 20, 2021, making Ohio the 15th state to enact a congressional map during the 2020 redistricting cycle. This map takes effect for Ohio’s 2022 congressional elections. In the 2010 redistricting cycle, Ohio enacted its Congressional map on Sept. 26, 2011, 55 days earlier than in this cycle.

The Ohio State Senate voted 24-7 to approve the congressional map on Nov. 16, and the Ohio House of Representatives approved the map in a 55-36 vote on Nov. 18. The Senate vote was strictly along party lines, with 24 Republicans voting in favor and seven Democrats voting against. In the House, 55 Republicans voted to approve the map, while five Republicans and 31 Democrats voted against the map. Since the map did not receive approval from one-half of the Democratic lawmakers, the map is set to only last for four years, rather than 10. 

DeWine released a statement after he signed the map into law, saying: “When compared to the other proposals offered from House and Senate caucuses, both Republican and Democrat, the map in Senate Bill 258 makes the most progress to produce a fair, compact, and competitive map.” Democratic lawmakers criticized the map, with Rep. Richard Brown (D) saying: “In my view, this was done for purely partisan political advantage, which is classic gerrymandering. It is sad and unfortunate that we are here at this point today. The people of Ohio deserve so much more.”

This map was passed 10 days ahead of the third and final deadline for congressional map enactment in Ohio. The legislature did not enact a map before the initial Sept. 30 deadline, and the Ohio Redistricting Commission did not enact a map before the second deadline of Oct. 31. Ohio’s legislative maps were enacted by the Redistricting Commission on Sept. 15, and are also set to last for four years.

Redistricting committees appointed, adjourned, and change in Ohio, New Mexico, and Utah

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting committee updates from Ohio, New Mexico, and Utah.

In Ohio, the state legislature announced members of the Joint Committee on Redistricting, which will be holding two hearings on congressional redistricting proposals before the Nov. 30 deadline for map enactment. The committee’s members are Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R), Sen. Rob McColley (R), Sen. Vernon Sykes (D), Rep. Beth Liston (D), Rep. Scott Oelslager (R), and Rep. Shane Wilkin (R). Sykes is the only member of the joint committee who was also a member of the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

The New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee adjourned on Oct. 29 after submitting its final set of map recommendations to the legislature. The commission’s proposals do not bind the state legislature, which retains the authority to adopt, amend, or discard the proposals as it sees fit. Additionally, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has veto authority over the maps. The legislature is expected to convene in December to begin considering proposals.

In Utah, former U.S. Rep. Bob Bishop (R-Utah) resigned from the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission on Oct. 26. Bishop said the commission favored urban areas and that the commission “is a metro-centric group. […] The majority are from Salt Lake County, we see things in a different way.” The executive director of Better Boundaries, an organization that supported the ballot proposition creating the commission, said: “We are encouraged by the work of the remaining six commissioners to suggest objective and qualified maps to the state legislative redistricting committee through this fair and transparent process.” On Oct. 29, Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson (R) appointed former Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food Logan Wilde (R) to replace Bishop on the commission.

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Redistricting timeline update: Georgia begins special session, New Hampshire and Ohio redistricting efforts delayed

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from Georgia, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

Georgia: The Georgia State Legislature convened for a special session focused on redistricting on Nov. 3, 2021. Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan (R) said he expected the legislature to agree on and pass state legislative maps quicker than congressional maps. “[State legislative maps] will be more straightforward. The congressional ones will be a little more involved,” Dugan said.

New Hampshire: On Oct. 26, 2021, Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman James Gray (D) announced that the Senate will not begin considering map proposals until city officials in Nashua have finished redrawing ward lines. Gray said he expects the Senate to begin deliberations on proposed maps in late January 2022. The House Redistricting Committee, however, is expected to recommend proposals this year, with Rep. Barbara Griffin (R) saying the committee plans to make final map recommendations to the legislature on Nov. 16 or 17, 2021.

Ohio: The Ohio Redistricting Commission did not meet its Oct. 31, 2021, deadline to draw and approve a congressional map, and the authority to create new districts will now pass to the state legislature. Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine (R), said the delayed release of U.S. Census Bureau data “essentially took five months out of the process” and did not leave sufficient time for the commission to draft and debate new congressional districts. The General Assembly must now draw and approve a new map by Nov. 30, 2021. For any map to be put in place for a full 10 years, support from at least a third of the members of the minority party is required, and any approved plan that does not meet this threshold will only be effective for four years.

Bibb wins Cleveland mayoral race

Justin Bibb (D) defeated City Council President Kevin Kelley (D), to win the mayoral election in Cleveland, Ohio. This was the first mayoral election in Cleveland without an incumbent on the ballot since 2001.

Bibb, who is 34, will become the second-youngest mayor in Cleveland’s history. Describing his campaign, Bibb said, “now is the time for bold, new, dynamic, visionary leadership and not the failed politics and policies of the past.” Kelley, who has served on the city council since 2005, highlighted his experience, saying, “Every candidate will talk about change. The question is: who knows how to and who has a record of making change?”

Bibb’s victory marks the first time since the 1962 election of Ralph Locher (D) where Clevelanders have elected a mayor with no prior electoral experience.

Bibb received endorsements from former mayors Jane Campbell (D) and Michael White (D), who served from 2002 to 2006 and 1990 to 2002, respectively. He also received endorsements from Our Revolution Ohio and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).

Seventeen of the 100 largest U.S. cities by population held general elections for mayor on Nov. 2. In total, 28 top-100 cities are electing mayors in 2021. Heading into election day, 63 top-100 mayors were affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 were affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, six identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, and one mayor has not responded to inquiries about his partisan affiliation.

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Pureval wins Cincinnati mayoral election

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval defeated Cincinnati Councilman and former mayor David Mann in the general election for mayor of Cincinnati on November 2, 2021. Pureval received 66 percent of the vote and Mann received 34 percent of the vote. Pureval will serve a four-year term. The two advanced from a six-person primary on May 4 in which Pureval received 39.1% and Mann received 29.1%.

Although the elections for and position of the mayor are officially nonpartisan, the candidates running were affiliated with political parties. Pureval is a Democrat. The last Republican to serve as mayor was Willis Gradison, who left office in 1971.

The mayor serves as the city’s chief executive and is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, and appointing departmental directors. He or she presides over council meetings, proposes legislation for discussion, and holds the power to appoint or remove committee heads, but does not have the authority to vote. The mayor also represents the city on the state, national and international levels.

Cincinnati is one of 17 of the 100 largest U.S. cities by population that held general elections for mayor on Nov. 2.

Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria retires

Paolo DeMaria retired as Ohio’s superintendent of public instruction on Sept. 24. DeMaria was first appointed to the position in May 2016 by the Ohio State Board of Education.

DeMaria announced on July 1 that he intended to retire, saying in a statement, “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the State Board of Education, the Ohio Department of Education, the education community and school children and the people of Ohio since June 2016 as State Superintendent, and for 30 years in various agencies of state government.”

The Board of Education selected Stephanie K. Siddens to serve as the interim superintendent until they choose a permanent replacement. 

Siddens has worked at the Ohio Department of Education since 2006. At the time she was appointed as acting superintendent, she was the senior executive director of the Center for Student Supports. She previously served as senior executive director of the Center for Curriculum and Assessment and director of the Office of Early Learning and School Readiness.

The Ohio superintendent of public instruction is an appointed state executive position in the Ohio state government. The superintendent serves as the secretary to the Board of Education and also its executive and administrative officer. The superintendent is responsible for executing the educational policies, orders, and administrative functions of the board as well as directing the work of all employees who work in the department of education.

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