The Midterms: Ohio

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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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Today, we look at the Buckeye State with an open gubernatorial election, an incumbent Democratic Senator up for reelection, and 16 House seats up for grabs.

This Senate race features incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown against 16th District Congressman Jim Renacci on the GOP side.  Brown entered this race a vulnerable incumbent in a state Trump won by an Ohio landslide.  If polling is to be believed, however, Renacci has failed to gain much traction with Ohio voters as he is down by an average of over 8 points although  the race appears to be tightening somewhat.  Still, overcoming Brown’s 45% approval rating may not be enough.

It is nice to see a Republican pulling a Kavanaugh on Brown by accusing him of some dubious actions against women.  One accusation involves a lawyer named Laura Mills who has a client who claims Brown made unwanted advances towards her and pushed her against the wall.  However, in the interest of maintaining the privacy of that accuser, the accusations stop there.  Sound familiar?  Of course, the Democrats are crying foul accusing Renacci of making these claims against Brown without any evidence.

Renacci is also dredging up reports of domestic abuse against Brown stemming from an acrimonious divorce that prompted Brown to trot out his ex-wife in a rebuttal.  To counter these charges, Brown has accused Renacci of using the private plane of a strip club owner to appear at campaign events throughout Ohio.

Also, Brown is making hay over Renacci’s association with wealthy businessman Ben Suarez who served time in prison over a campaign finance scandal.  Supposedly, Renacci went to bat for Suarez who then donated $100,000 to the Renacci campaign in the past.

It is hard to determine where this race is headed with all the charges and counter=charges being thrown about.  Brown has visions of a future presidential run dancing in his head and winning reelection to the Senate is a necessary first step.  At this point, one would have to give the race to him, but it bears some watching over the coming week.

In the open gubernatorial election, Republican John “I Wanna Be President” Kasich is thankfully term-limited.  The race will feature the current state attorney general Mike DeWine going up against former state attorney general and Elizabeth Warren fanboy Richard Cordray on the Democratic side.

DeWine has done his best to link Cordray to Washington Democratic Party liberals, to the 2009 financial crisis when he was state treasurer and then attorney general, and to the very unpopular former governor, Ted Strickland who lost to Kasich eight years ago.

Of greater importance is evidence that as state attorney general, Cordray’s office failed to test over 12,000 rape kits.  According to Cordray, he inherited the backlog because no standards existed on how to test them.  Yeah… right.  DeWine is also hitting Cordray over his support for Issue #1, a criminal justice reform package that could reduce the sentences of some criminals by up to 25%.  While DeWine is projecting a law and order campaign, unfortunately the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police which has 30,000 members has thrown their support behind the Democrat this year. Cordray may be playing up this endorsement, but he should remember that they endorsed him for attorney general in 2010 when DeWine ousted him, and they also endorsed DeWine’s Democratic opponent in 2014- a race which DeWine won handily.  Hence, that FOP endorsement in Ohio may be a kiss of death.

With DeWine up by almost 3 points in the polls and with some of the attacks on Cordray having resonance with Ohio voters, this writer feels confident putting it in the “R” column at this point.

The current House delegation favors the GOP 11-5.  There is one open Republican seat- the 16th which is Renacci’s- but it is safely red.  Democrats are strangely going after GOP incumbent Steve Chabot in the First District.  The reason is simple: some Republicans privately worried Chabot was not taking the race seriously against Democratic challenger Aftab Pureval.  However, some “scandal” is following Pureval with some allegations that used campaign funds from a local race to pay for a Congressional race poll.  Outside groups have stepped in accusing Pureval of hypocrisy noting that he worked for a Libyan lobbyist interest although he now rails against lobbyists.  The result is that Chabot is now up by almost 4 points in the polls.

Remember those sexual harassment charges against Fourth District incumbent and Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan?  Yeah… neither do I.  This is a district that supported Trump with 61% of the vote and Jordan has the full support of Trump.  Perhaps this was a trial run for Kavanaugh, but like that debacle, expect an easy GOP victory here.

Believing it to be a bad year for Republicans, the Democrats through they had a chance in the Tenth District.  Held by Republican Mike Turner, he has never garnered less than 58% of the vote in eight contests.  Leaving nothing to chance, he has hammered his Democratic opponent, Theresa Gasper, over nearby Wright-Paterson Air Force Base in this Dayton-area district.  Seems the Democrats picked the wrong fight here.

In the 12th District, Democrat Danny O’Connor narrowly lost a special election to Republican Troy Balderson earlier this year.  Don’t expect it so close come Election Day as Balderson should prevail.

Although not in danger of losing the 14th District, incumbent David Joyce (a Republican) is running ads touting how he stood up to Trump over funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  Trump won this district with 52% of the vote but perhaps Joyce senses a weakening of Trump support here.

And finally, Steve Stivers (R-OH15) is taking no chances against his Democratic Party unknown and is  running ads in support of affordable health care and a balanced budget amendment.

Overall, like Wisconsin, this writer does not see too much changing here as these Upper Midwest states seem to be in a political holding pattern.  That is not what the Democrats were counting on.  If there is any Congressional seat to be lost, it would likely be the 12th District, but I do not see a GOP loss here at this time.

The numbers after this entry:

US Senate 49-41 Republican, US House 183-180 Republican, and Governors 28-17 Republican.

Next: We close out the Upper Midwest with a look at the races in Michigan.