Stories about Ohio

Sept. 14 mayoral primary in Cleveland is first in 20 years with no incumbent

The primary election for Cleveland, Ohio, is on Sept. 14. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 2. The filing deadline to run passed on June 16.

Candidates filed for mayor and the 17 wards of the city council. The general election will also include four seats on the Cleveland Municipal Court.

Seven candidates are running for the mayoral seat: Justin Bibb, Ross DiBello, Basheer Jones, Kevin Kelley, Dennis J. Kucinich, Zack Reed, and Sandra Williams. The race is nonpartisan, but all seven candidates identify as Democrats.

The incumbent, Frank Jackson, is not seeking re-election. Jackson was first elected in 2005 and is Cleveland’s longest-serving mayor to date. The 2021 election will mark the first mayoral election in Cleveland without an incumbent since 2001.

Cleveland is the second-largest city in Ohio and the 48th-largest city in the United States.

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Redistricting Roundup: Illinois legislature enacts revised district boundaries for state House, Senate

Today’s redistricting roundup includes news from Illinois and Ohio.


The Illinois House and Senate approved new state legislative boundaries on Aug. 31 during a special session. The maps, which passed 73-43 in the state House, and 40-17 in the state Senate, revised legislative redistricting plans enacted in June. The maps the state approved in June were drawn to meet the Illinois Constitution’s June 30 deadline for approving a state legislative redistricting plan and were adopted before the U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. Click here to view the new state House map and here to view the Senate map.

Two lawsuits that were filed in federal district court challenging the June legislative maps were consolidated on July 14. The minority leaders of the Illinois House and Senate and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund argued that those redistricting plans did not ensure that the districts had substantially equal populations because they used data from the American Community Survey (ACS) instead of the 2020 census. The trial in the consolidated lawsuit is scheduled to begin on Sept. 27. 

Legislators have not yet proposed a congressional redistricting plan in Illinois.


The Ohio Redistricting Commission met on Aug. 31 and decided it would hold three additional public hearings before approving proposed maps, as opposed to a single public hearing required by law. The Commission’s meeting follows 10 public sessions held in various locations across the state from Aug. 23 to Aug. 27.

The Commission did not approve new state legislative districts by its initial Sept. 1 deadline, and the final deadline for the creation of new legislative boundaries is Sept 15. Rep. Bob Cupp (R), a co-chair of the commission, said the late release of census data was the cause of the Commission’s delay and estimated maps would be formally proposed in 10-12 days. The Ohio Redistricting Commission is made up of five Republicans—including Gov. Mike DeWine (R)—and two Democrats.

Additional reading:

Campaign finance update: Top fundraisers in Ohio

Campaign finance requirements govern the raising and spending of money for political campaigns. While not the only factor in an election’s outcome, successful fundraising can provide a candidate with advantages, such as the ability to boost name recognition and promote a message. In addition, fundraising can indicate enthusiasm for candidates and parties.

This article lists the top individual fundraisers in Ohio by their party affiliation as well as the top ten fundraisers overall. It is based on campaign finance reports that active Ohio candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State. It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

Top Ohio Fundraisers

The top fundraisers in Ohio elections are shown below. For the purpose of this article, fundraisers may include individuals who are on the ballot this election cycle as well as those not currently running for office but who have received contributions during this reporting period. Individuals are listed with the office that they held at the time of publication, if applicable.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent semiannual reporting period were:

Fundraising Totals

Overall, the top Ohio Democratic candidate PACs raised $2.35 million in this period. The top Republican candidate PACs raised $4.83 million. Ohio candidate PACs in the Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, filing period raised a total of $10.60 million. Combined, these Ohio candidates account for 68% of total fundraising.

Contributions to the top five Democratic candidates made up 85% of the total amount reported by their party’s campaigns. Contributions to the top five Republican fundraisers comprised 62% of the total amount reported by Republican campaigns.

The table below provides additional data from the campaign finance reports from the top ten fundraisers. For more information on fundraising and spending for Ohio races on the 2022 ballot, click here.

NameParty AffiliationRaised this periodSpent this period
Richard Michael DeWineRepublican Party$2,261,657$150,866
Nan WhaleyDemocratic Party$1,193,508$479,016
Jim RenacciRepublican Party$1,102,608$14,409
John CranleyDemocratic Party$998,075$204,252
Dave YostRepublican Party$790,556$29,983
Matt HuffmanRepublican Party$359,614$25,117
Frank LaRoseRepublican Party$317,181$148,671
Joe BlystoneRepublican Party$286,086$123,927
Keith FaberRepublican Party$254,010$22,795
Robert SpragueRepublican Party$230,184$36,187

Campaign Finance Reporting Periods

The reports filed with the Ohio Secretary of State cover Jan. 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. Candidate PACs in Ohio must file semiannual financial reports of their fundraising and campaign spending. During election years, candidate PACs also file additional financial reports before primary and general elections.

The next semiannual campaign finance reporting deadline for Ohio legislators and candidates will include activity between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.

Three candidates file for Toledo City Council special election

Three candidates have filed to run in the Sep. 14 special election for District 6 on the Toledo City Council in Ohio. The filing deadline for the special election was Aug. 5.

Incumbent Theresa Morris, Kimberly Adkins, and James Nowak are running in the special election. Morris was appointed to the seat on April 20 to replace Chris Delaney. The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Delaney’s term, which runs through 2023. The special election is nonpartisan, but Morris has been endorsed by the Lucas County Democratic Party. According to the Toledo Blade, Adkins and Nowak are Republicans.

Ballotpedia will also be covering the Toledo mayoral race and the six at-large city council seats that are on the ballot in 2021. The primary for those races will be held on Sep. 14, and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.

Toledo is the fourth-largest city in Ohio and the 66th-largest city in the U.S. by population. It had an estimated population of 272,779 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in 21 counties and 68 cities, including 40 mayoral elections.

Additional reading:

Toledo, Ohio

Mayoral election in Toledo, Ohio (2021)

United States municipal elections, 2021

Shontel Brown wins Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th District special election

Shontel Brown won the special Democratic primary for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District on Aug. 3. As of 11 p.m. ET, Brown had received 50% of the vote to Nina Turner’s 44%. Eleven other candidates split 6%.

Brown serves on the Cuyahoga County Council and chairs the county’s Democratic Party. She previously served on the Warrensville Heights City Council. Turner is a former state senator and worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. She also served on the Cleveland City Council and was chair of party engagement for the state Democratic Party. 

Hillary Clinton, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) were among Brown’s endorsers. Turner’s endorsers included Sanders, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Labor groups split endorsements in the primary.

Satellite spending groups spent more than $3 million toward the special Democratic primary. Of that, $2 million came from Democratic Majority For Israel, which endorsed Brown.

Former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) vacated the seat to become secretary of housing and urban development in President Joe Biden’s administration. Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 general election Solid Democratic

Mike Carey wins Republican primary in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District special election

Mike Carey defeated 10 candidates to win the special Republican primary for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District on Aug. 3. As of 9:30 p.m. ET, Carey had received 37% of the vote, Bob Peterson was second with 15%, Ron Hood was third with 14%, and Jeff LaRe was fourth with 11%.

The special election will fill the vacancy left by Steve Stivers (R), who resigned in May to become the CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

Carey was chairman of the Ohio Coal Association and is a U.S. Army National Guard veteran. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed him. LaRe, who Stivers endorsed, is a state representative. Hood, a marketing consultant, had endorsements from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). Peterson is a state senator. The Ohio Right to Life PAC endorsed him.

The Make America Great Again Action Inc. PAC spent almost $350,000 supporting Carey. Stivers spent nearly $300,000 in remaining funds from his campaign account supporting LaRe, as well as an additional $60,740 on media supporting LaRe last week. The Protect Freedom PAC spent over $640,000 supporting Hood.

Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 general election Solid Republican. Stivers won the past six elections by an average margin of victory of 24 percentage points.

Voters to decide special Democratic primary in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District on Aug. 3

Thirteen candidates are running in the Aug. 3 special Democratic primary for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. Former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) vacated the seat to become secretary of housing and urban development in President Joe Biden’s (D) administration.

The Hill‘s Julia Manchester wrote that the race “has become a proxy battle for the Democratic Party establishment and national progressives,” referring to endorsements for candidates Shontel Brown and Nina Turner. Brown is on the Cuyahoga County Council. Turner is a former state senator and worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. 

Hillary Clinton, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) endorsed Brown. Sanders, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Turner. Ocasio-Cortez campaigned in Cleveland for Turner on July 24. Clyburn and Sanders are scheduled to campaign in the district for Brown and Turner, respectively, over the weekend.

Seth Richardson of Cleveland.com wrote that local endorsements don’t break down along the same dividing lines as national endorsements, citing in part Turner’s endorsements from local officials who supported Biden’s presidential primary campaign, including Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and Brown’s share of endorsements from labor groups.

Both candidates say they have a record of delivering for the district and have the relationships needed to do so in the House. Brown emphasizes her relationship with Fudge and her support for the Biden administration. She said in a campaign ad, “For some, it’s about the limelight. For me, it’s about results.” Turner said at a debate that the district needs someone “who does have a vision, that understands being a partner does not mean being a puppet.”

Inside Elections rates the November general election Solid Democratic. 

Candidate filing deadline for school board positions in Ohio is Aug. 4

Candidates interested in running for their local school board in Ohio have until Aug. 4 to file, unless the district held a primary earlier in the year. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2, and new board members will take office on Jan. 1, 2022.

Ballotpedia is covering elections in 20 Ohio school districts in 2021. Columbus City Schools’ filing deadline was Feb. 3. The remaining 19 districts are:

  • Berea City School District
  • Canal Winchester Local School District
  • Cincinnati Public Schools
  • Dublin City Schools
  • Euclid City School District
  • Gahanna-Jefferson City School District
  • Groveport-Madison Local School District
  • Hamilton Local School District
  • Hilliard City Schools
  • Maumee City School District
  • New Albany-Plain Local School District
  • Olentangy Local School District
  • Pickerington Local School District
  • South-Western City Schools
  • Sylvania City School District
  • Toledo Public Schools
  • Washington Local School District
  • Westerville City School District
  • Worthington Schools

These 19 school districts served a combined total of 220,070 students during the 2016-2017 school year. 

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Citizens For A Safer Cleveland submits additional signatures to place police-related initiative on November ballot

On July 7, Citizens for a Safer Cleveland submitted an additional 3,208 signatures to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for verification after the committee was short 384 of the 6,270 valid signatures needed to qualify for the Cleveland ballot in November. 

On June 16, the committee announced that they had submitted about 13,000 signatures to the county board of elections. On June 25, the county board of elections announced that 5,886 of the submitted signatures were valid. The group had 15 additional days to collect enough valid signatures to make up the difference and qualify for the ballot.

The initiative would repeal and replace sections of the Cleveland City Charter concerning the organization and oversight of the Cleveland Police Department. It would grant the chief of police the authority to discipline police officers in any reasonably justifiable way, subject to subject to review by the Civilian Police Review Board and the Community Police Commission. The initiative would restructure the Office of Professional Standards to report to the Civilian Police Review Board rather than the executive head of the police department. The initiative would bar current or former police officers from serving as the administrator of the office and would require that the police chief (and the force at large) comply with any requests for information that the office makes within 30 days.

The initiative would also enact the following changes to the nine-member Civilian Police Review Board:

  • Require that two members of the board should be attorneys with experience defending victims of police brutality;
  • Transfer the power to remove board members from the executive head of the police department to the mayor;
  • Require that the board’s budget be equal to or greater than 1% of the budget allocated to the police department;
  • Grant the board the ability to initiate its own complaints against the police department;
  • Add a new requirement that the chief of police present “clear-and-convicting” evidence that the board’s disciplinary recommendations are erroneous if the chief does not want to comply with them; and
  • Add termination as the default disciplinary action for “bigoted content, slurs, or language.”

Lastly, the initiative would create the 13-member Community Police Commission. The duties of the Commission would include serving as the final authority over disciplinary actions of officers; interviewing and recommending candidates for police commander and inspector general; establishing and auditing police recruitment and training practices; and directing the investigations of the Civilian Police Review Board.

Ballotpedia is covering a selection of notable police-related ballot measures in 2021. In April, voters in Oak Park, Illinois, defeated a non-binding advisory question that advised the city to defund the police department. In May, voters in Austin, Texas approved a measure to establish the position of the Director of Police Oversight in the city charter. Voters in San Antonio, Texas, defeated a measure that would have repealed collective bargaining for police officers. Voters in Pittsburgh approved a measure to require police to knock on a door, announce their presence, and wait at least 15 seconds before entering a residence to execute a warrant. Allegheny County voters approved a measure to prohibit the solitary confinement of persons held in the Allegheny County Jail.

Additional Reading:

Cleveland, Ohio, Community Police Commission and Police Oversight Initiative (November 2021)

Notable local police-related ballot measures (2021)

Preview: Upcoming special congressional elections

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

Three special elections for the U.S. House will take place within the next month: a runoff election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27 and primaries in Ohio’s 11th and 15th congressional districts on Aug. 3.

Texas’ 6th

The July 27 runoff in Texas features Republicans Jake Ellzey and Susan Wright. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special general election on May 1, where Wright received 19% of the vote to Ellzey’s 14%.

The previous incumbent, Ronald Wright (R), died from complications related to COVID-19 on Feb. 7. Susan Wright is his widow. She served as district director for state Reps. Bill Zedler (R) and David Cook (R). Ellzey is a state representative, first elected in 2020. In 2018, he ran against Ronald Wright in the 6th Congressional District Republican primary, losing in the primary runoff with 48% to Wright’s 52%. 

The Club for Growth has spent more than $500,000 supporting Wright and opposing Ellzey in the special election. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Wright. Ellzey’s supporters include former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and the Texas Farm Bureau AGFUND.

Ohio’s 11th

President Joe Biden (D) appointed former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) secretary of housing and urban development, leaving this seat vacant. Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 general election Solid Democratic. Of the 13 candidates in the Democratic primary, Shontel Brown and Nina Turner have led in fundraising, endorsements, and media attention.

Brown is a member of the Cuyahoga County Council and chairwoman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton (D) endorsed her. Turner was a state senator and co-chaired Bernie Sanders’ (I) 2020 presidential primary campaign. Sanders endorsed Turner.

Ohio’s 15th

Former Rep. Steve Stivers (R) resigned in May to become CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Inside Elections rates the Nov. 2 general election Solid Republican. Eleven candidates are running in the Aug. 3 special Republican primary.

Stivers endorsed Jeff LaRe, a state representative since 2019. LaRe also has a background in law enforcement. Trump endorsed Mike Carey, who served in the Army National Guard. Bob Peterson is a state senator and former president of the Ohio Farm Bureau. The Ohio Right to Life PAC endorsed him.

Seven special elections have been called during the 117th Congress so far. From the 113th Congress to the 116th Congress, 50 special elections were held.