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The Ohio Senate is divided into 33 districts; the odd numbered districts are up in midterm years while the even districts are up in presidential years. Republicans currently hold a 23-10 advantage in the Ohio Senate. GOP control of redistricting certainly has played a role in the party’s ability to maintain control of the chamber, although gerrymandering is not entirely to blame for the GOP’s wide advantage. Currently, Republicans control five seats won by President Obama in 2012, while only one Democrat (Lou Gentile of the 30th District) holds a seat won by Mitt Romney.

The "good" news for Ohio Democrats (if anything counts as good news when holding less than 1/3 of seats in a chamber) is that four of the five Republican State Senators in seats won by President Obama are up in 2014. While it is basically a sure thing that Republicans will maintain control of the State Senate in 2014, Democrats are likely to make gains. With the Ohio filing deadline having passed, I will offer my analysis of the competitiveness of the races that will take place next year.

Democratic held seats: The only Democrat in the State Senate who holds a seat where President Obama got below 57.5% of the vote in 2012 is the aforementioned Lou Gentile who won a narrow reelection in 2012 in a 51 percent Romney district. As such, all Democratic State Senators up in 2012 are safe.

Republican held seats: In contrast, a number of Republicans up in 2014 sit in competitive seats; four of the five Republican State Senators in seats won by President Obama in 2012 are up for reelection in 2012.

Safely Republican Seats: Republican Senators in the 1st, 7th, 17th, and 31st districts are safe due to the partisan lean of their seats. Republican Senators Frank LaRose (R-27) and Scott Oelslager (R-29) are both safe bets in the general election, but both face Tea-flavored challengers in the primary. While both La Rose and Oeslager are heavily favored in the primary, were either to lose it would change the competitiveness of their seats. Were LaRose to lose, his 54-44.5% Romney 27th district would move from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.  Scott Oelsager’s 29th district was won by President Obama by a 49.9 to 48.3% margin in 2012, but the moderate Oelslager has a solid hold on the seat. Were Oelslager to somehow lose the primary, this seat would move to a Toss Up.

Democrats seem to have competent candidates running in both seats who could run competitive races were the Tea Partiers to win either primary. In the 27th, the Democratic candidate is George Rusiska who appears to be the Second Vice Chair of the Wayne County Democratic Party. In the 29th, the Democratic candidate is Connie Rubin, who appears (from a Google Search) to be a Public Relations Coordinator with Stark Parks.

Likely Republican: No seats, unless LaRose loses the primary.

Lean Republican: One of the other Republican State Senators in a seat won by President Obama in 2012 is 3rd District Senator Kevin Bacon. President Obama won the 3rd district in 2012 by a 54.5-44% margin. The likely Democratic candidate is Marco Miller, although another candidate named Star Johnson also filed for the seat. Miller lost a Democratic primary for the 20th district in the State House in 2012 to Heather Bishoff (who went on won the general election) by a 56-44% margin.

According to this article from 2012, Miller served a term on a local school board, is an Air Force veteran, and is a retired firefighter. Miller seems like a credible candidate, but Republicans have held this suburban Columbus district for a while. The one thing that gives me pause as to how strong of a candidate Miller will be is the double digit primary loss to Bishoff in 2012. Eventually, the leftward swing of Columbus and Franklin County as a whole will likely make this district swing to the Democrats eventually. As of now, before seeing how strong of a candidate Miller turns out to be I am leaving this seat at Lean Republican. However, this seat could certainly become a Toss Up later in the cycle.

Toss Up/Tilt Democratic: Districts 5 and 13 both swung to the GOP in the 2010 wave. Both have a good chance of swinging back to Democrats in 2014.

District 5 is held by Republican Bill Beagle. This seat went for President Obama by a 53.1- 45.3% margin in 2012. The district contains much of the city of Dayton (which is strongly Democratic), as well as some suburban and exurban areas of surrounding counting that lean decidedly to the GOP (yay, gerrymandering!). Three Democrats are running for the seat: Dayton School Board Member Joe Lacey, Tipp City Councilmember (and former Mayor) Dee Gillis, and Businessman Tom Matthew.

With their past success in winning elective office, Lacey and Gillis are probably the stronger candidates to take on Beagle in November. Matthew ran for State Senate in a different (heavily Republican) district in 2008 (before redistricting), losing by a wide margin to Sen. Keith Faber (who is now Senate President). Lacey probably starts strongest name ID in Dayton (the Democratic core of the district) and might the best chance of getting a big margin out of Dayton in November. (Although Gillis has the support of some key Dayton Democrats including mayor Nan Whaley) Gillis also comes from a more Republican leaning part of the district (Sen. Beagle is also from Tipp City) and might be able to cut the GOP margin there in November. Either way, this seat seems like a solid pick up opportunity for Democrats in November.

District 13 is held by Republican Gayle Manning. This seat went from President Obama by a 55.1-43.2% margin in 2012. Two Democrats are running in the primary for the right to face Manning: Elyria City Councilman Marcus Madison and Chiropractor Eric Kaple of Willard.

Madison was going to run in the open (Democratic leaning) 55th House district (where, interestingly, Sen. Manning's son Nathan Manning will be the GOP candidate), but recently switched to the Senate race. Madison probably has a slight advantage in the primary and I would speculate that he might be at least a somewhat better general election candidate. Admittedly, however, I know almost nothing about Kaple, so this is speculation on my part. Either way, the strong Democratic lean of this seat makes it another great opportunity for Democrats.

Overall, the presence of credible Democratic candidates as well as the lean of the seats and the fact that Democrats held these seats before the 2010 wave leads me to put both of them in the Toss Up Category (with a slight tilt to Democrats).

In total, Democrats are likely to pick up 2-3 seats in the Ohio Senate in 2013, reducing the GOP majority from a mammoth 23-10 to a somewhat narrower 21-12 or 20-13.


How Many Ohio State Senate seats will Democrats gain in November

14%17 votes
16%20 votes
20%25 votes
12%15 votes
35%43 votes

| 120 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the info nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, mslat27

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 10:13:56 AM PST

  •  Bill Beagle's seat, District 5, (0+ / 0-)

    overlaps quite a bit with John Boehner's congressional district, so it'll give you an idea of how difficult the race could be for Democrats.

    Joe Lacey is gay, btw, and I've got to wonder how that would effect the race. I think Gillis would be the strongest candidate.

    •  So is Tammy Baldwin, and Wisconsin is a point (0+ / 0-)

      redder than the 5th district. Arizona 9 (Sinema) is 4 points redder.

      I have no personal preference between Gillis and Lacey (I think either would be slightly favored against Beagle), but I don't think sexual orientation should make one assume that Lacey would not be a strong candidate for this seat.

  •  Great roundup (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emops, TofG, Stephen Wolf

    I'd like to see more of these for other states.

    The Ohio legislature is brutal.  Democrats didn't pick up a single senate seat in 2012 and actually lost a state house seat compared to the 2010 elections (which already decimated the narrow Dem majority, turning a 53-46 majority into a 40-59 minority).

    Hopeful that can turn around somewhat, but Ohio Republicans seem like they have an iron grip on the legislature with all those 51-53% Romney seats, just like the congressional map.

    Might have to wait for new maps in 2022, and hopefully have a seat at the table that time to prevent yet another GOP gerrymander.

  •  Does Ohio senate have a 2/3 requirement for (0+ / 0-)

    passing over a veto? If so, important to win gov. race (I believe currently GOP favored by a bit) and win at least 2 seats net.

  •  I would have liked to see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    some maps of the districts, and hopefully you can include maps in your diary of the State House races.

    (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

    by ProudNewEnglander on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 11:52:28 AM PST

    •  maps? we got your maps right here (0+ / 0-)

      Ohio Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing elections in Ohio. Surprisingly, the SoS website is pretty good. I'd bet a nickle that's due to the influence of the awesome Jennifer Brunner, not the loathesome Jon Husted.

      Anyway: maps are here, including shape files for those eager beavers with geocoding programs.

      a little geography lesson:
      Cuyahoga County = Cleveland & suburbs

      Franklin County - Columbus & suburbs

      Hamilton County - Cincinnati & suburbs

      Lucas County - Toledo etc.

      Mahoning County - Youngstown etc.

      Montgomery County - Dayton and suburbs

      Stark/Summit Counties - Stark is Canton and vicinity. Summit is Akron and vicinity. Stark is adjacent to and southeast of Summit County. Summit is adjacent to and southeast of Cuyahoga County.

      Reforms come from below. No man with four aces howls for a new deal.
      Keystone XL will raise gas prices!

      by Turbonerd on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 05:24:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting poll results (0+ / 0-)

    40% of people (admittedly 8/20) responding to my poll say Dems are going to lose State Senate seats. lol

    So the GOP is going to be winning some D+15 Ohio Senate seats come November...

  •  OH SD-03: Suburban Columbus (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is it still completely within Franklin County?

    I was born in Columbus in '89 and our Congressman was Chalmers Wylie (R).  I know this because I had a picture taken with him when I was not even a year old.  Wylie held the district since the '60s and was symbolic of the business Republican class that used to rule Columbus politics.  Clinton lost Franklin County in '92, he and Gore won it narrowly in '96 and '00, Kerry won it by 9% in 2004, and Obama won it by 21% in '08 and almost 23% in '12.

    “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.” -The Doctor

    by KingofSpades on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 03:51:54 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the info (0+ / 0-)

    It would be a shame if we couldn't win the 13th when Obama won it by 12% and Brown by 16%. I'm hopeful we can beat the other two as there aren't all that many Republicans winning districts where Obama won by 8% or more outside of places like suburban Philly or the northeast.

  •  I think the 13th is ours (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Lorain County is solidly democratic, and much more populous than Huron County, and while Huron is red, its more of a pinkish shade than the blood red counties further south and west.  Lorain and Cuyahoga (and Summit as well) really didn't turn out well at all in 2010, and that ended up making the seat go red, as well as possibly costing Ted Strickland the governor's race.  

    The 5th, I'm not quite as certain about.  We should win it, given how much of Dayton is in the district, but that is some really uber-red territory in Miami, Darke, and Preble counties.  The 5th really boils down to which voting base shows up, even more so than the 13th because the 13th has some swing voters in it...the 5th is either all red in the rural/suburban areas or all blue in Dayton.

    26, OH-16, fiscal moderate, foreign policy liberal, social libertarian 2012 Daily Kos Elections Pick'Em Champion

    by StephenCLE on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:19:59 AM PST

  •  What about the 5th? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The 5th district contains all of Stark County except for the very western part near Massillon and is up for re-election this cycle.  I have to figure that's a republican sitting in an Obama district as well.

    26, OH-16, fiscal moderate, foreign policy liberal, social libertarian 2012 Daily Kos Elections Pick'Em Champion

    by StephenCLE on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 07:21:29 AM PST

    •  District 5 is Dayton area-Bill Beagle (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's one of the ones I think will flip.

      The 29th is the Canton/Massillon area one and is narrowly Obama.

      But it is represented by Scott Oelslager who is pretty moderate. For example, Oelslager was the first Ohio Republican to come out against SB5.

      But Oeslager does have a Tea Party primary challenger and if he were to lose the primary it would go right to Toss Up.

      •  That makes sense (0+ / 0-)

        I guess we'll have to see how the primary shakes out there.  Oelslager coming out against SB5 was a pretty astute move on his part...Canton is an area where the workforce is still pretty heavily unionized compared to the rest of the state, his lunch would've been eaten had he been in support of that.

        26, OH-16, fiscal moderate, foreign policy liberal, social libertarian 2012 Daily Kos Elections Pick'Em Champion

        by StephenCLE on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 07:06:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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