Report on Ohio Government - March 2016: Kasich Does Well in Ohio; Trump and Clinton Look to Sweep the Rest

Government Relations

Ohio Governor John Kasich had a strong showing in the Ohio Republican primary on Tuesday night, winning his first primary contest. Kasich beat his nearest contender, Donald Trump, 47% to 36%. U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio took 13% and 3% respectively. But Donald Trump again had a good night, winning primaries in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina. Trump’s commanding win in Florida even prompted Senator Rubio, a Florida native, to suspend his candidacy.

On the Democrat side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a comfortable margin in Ohio, defeating U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders 57% to 43%. Clinton had a good night overall, easily winning Florida, with closer wins in Illinois and North Carolina. The Missouri contests remain too close to call for both parties. On the Republican side, Trump and Cruz are the current leaders. At this point, about half of the primaries have been conducted with the final primaries wrapping up in early June. The Republican National Convention will take place in Cleveland on July 18-21, 2016. The Democratic National Convention is scheduled for July 25-28, 2016, in Philadelphia.

Strickland and Portman Win Senate Primaries; Tea Party Candidate Wins Primary for Boehner Seat

Former Governor Ted Strickland easily won his primary contest against Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld. Strickland won 65% of the vote against 22% for Sittenfeld and 12% for Kelli Prather, an occupational therapist from Cincinnati. Current Senator Rob Portman was able to easily defeat his opponent Don Eckhart in the Republican primary, with a vote of 82% to 18%.

The race between Strickland and Sittenfeld was initially expected to be a little closer - each drew support from some well known names in the Democratic Party and Sittenfeld had the endorsement of three major papers in the State. The vigorous campaign with Sittenfeld leaves Strickland at a monetary disadvantage heading into the general election against Portman. According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Strickland reportedly has $2.2 million on hand versus Portman who has $12.7 million. Political analysts are expecting the Strickland-Portman match up to be one of the more competitive Senate races in the nation as the Democrats attempt to regain control of the Senate after two years in the minority.

Warren Davidson, a businessman from Troy in Miami County, won the Republican primary for Ohio’s 8th Congressional District, the seat formerly held by retired Speaker John Boehner. Davidson fought off tough competition from state Representative Tim Derickson and Senator Bill Beagle and 12 other candidates. Unofficial results show Davidson receiving about 32% of the vote, with his closest competitors, Derickson and Beagle, receiving about 24% and 20%, respectively. Davidson will now compete in a June 7 special election to serve out the reminder of Boehner’s term and a general election in November for another two-year term. Davidson looks strong to win those races as the 8th District is one of the most Republican Congressional districts in the state.

Ohio House and Senate Candidates Finalized in Primaries

There were also multiple primaries in Ohio House and Senate races as all 99 House seats and the even-numbered Senate district seats are also up for election this year. Election night included 36 House primaries and 11 Senate primaries. Some of the notable results from around the state include:

  • Former Speaker of the House Larry Householder won the Republican primary in the 72nd District, which includes part of Licking County. He knocked off Coshocton Councilman Cliff Biggers. Householder left office at the end of 2004 due to term limits.
  • For the second consecutive election, Representative John Barnes, a Cleveland Democrat who is not backed by the party, survived a primary challenge from Jill Miller-Zimon in the 12th District.
  • Representative Wes Retherford from Hamilton held on against a challenge from his predecessor, Courtney Combs, who was endorsed by the Butler County Republican Party for the 51st District race.
  • Incumbent Representative Tony Burkley of Payne, despite backing from the current House Republican caucus, was defeated by political newcomer Craig Riedel, a retired sales manager who spent more than $150,000 of his own money.
  • In the hotly contested 24th Senate District in suburban Cuyahoga County, former state Representative Matt Dolan, whose father owns the Cleveland Indians, held a significant lead over a pair of current Republican House members looking to switch chambers, Representatives Nan Baker and Mike Dovilla.
  • There will be several new faces in the House and Senate next year as 13 House members and 6 Senate members are term limited this year and unable to run for re-election.