Election Day is Tuesday, November 2. Your ballot will likely be two or three pages long. Be prepared. Here’s a guide to the statewide races this year.If you’re registered outside Ohio, you’ll need to find your candidates on your own. Your state’s Secretary of State website will most likely have a utility to look up the candidates on your ballot.
Here’s a guide to the candidates up for election this year. If you are registered to vote at your campus address, you’ll find all of these candidates on your ballot. If you’re registered anywhere in the state of Ohio, you’ll find the candidates in the gray boxes on your ballot. If you’re registered outside Ohio, you’ll need to find your candidates on your own. Your state’s Secretary of State website will have a utility to look up the candidates on your ballot.
Governor / Lt. Governor
Incumbent: Ted Strickland, elected 2006
Ted Strickland / Yvette McGee Brown (Democrat)
Previous Elected Office: Governor (2007-present), US Congressman (1993-1995, 1997-2007)
Originally elected in a landslide over Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in 2006, Strickland’s campaign for re-election has proven far more difficult than the race that won him the governorship. Faced with a weak economy and a national environment toxic to most Democrats, Strickland has emphasized his conservative side (he picked up the National Rifle Association endorsement in the race) while pounding John Kasich for his job at Lehman Brothers during the financial collapse.
John Kasich / Mary Taylor (Republican)
courtesy Ohio Republican Party
Previous Elected Office: US Congressman (1983-2001), Ohio Senate (1979-1982)
John Kasich, having spent almost a decade outside elected office, is staging a comeback in a big way with his campaign for Governor. He spent the past years working for Lehman Brothers and appearing as a host on FOX News with his show Heartland with John Kasich. The Strickland campaign’s attempts to tie Kasich to Lehman Brothers haven’t stuck, but Kasich has found his campaign’s own charge against his opponent – Ohio’s some 400,000 lost jobs during Strickland’s tenure – an extremely effective line of attack. Kasich’s policy proposals center around eliminating the state’s income tax, though Kasich has not specified exactly how he would make up for the lost revenue. Kasich has held a decent lead in most polls since mid-summer.
Ken Matesz / Margaret Ann Leech (Libertarian)
Dennis S. Spisak / Anita Rios (Green)
David L. Sargent / Andrew C. Pfeifer (write-in)
Race Rating: most experts consider this race “leaning Kasich” but still competitive
Incumbent: Richard Cordray, elected 2008
Mike DeWine (Republican)
Previous Elected Office: US Senator (1995-2007), Lieutenant Governor (1991-1994), US Congress (1983-1991), Ohio Senate (1981-1982)
After losing his Senate seat in 2006 to Sherrod Brown, Mike DeWine returned briefly to private practice and education before beginning his campaign for Attorney General in the summer of 2009. DeWine’s campaign has largely centered around two issues – a claim that the Attorney General’s office is slow in processing DNA evidence, and a pledge to join the state lawsuits opposing the new federal healthcare law as unconstitutional. DeWine’s charge about DNA evidence was rated “half-true” by PolitiFact, but his stance on healthcare is playing well in the conservative areas of Ohio. He’s a name Ohioans recognize, having previously won three statewide elections.
Richard Cordray (Democrat)
Previous Elected Office: Ohio House (1991-1992), Treasurer (2007-2009), Attorney General (2009-present)
Cordray won a special election in 2008 to fill out the final two years of Mark Dann’s term as AG and is now seeking re-election to his first full term. Cordray has been running a campaign largely focused on his accomplishments, including recovering approximately $1 billion from various companies involved in the financial industry. Though he has overstated his record on the campaign trail, all of Ohio’s newspapers agree that his record is strong enough to merit a full term, winning the endorsement of the five papers who have weighed in on the race.
Marc Allan Feldman (Libertarian)
Robert M. Owens (Constitution)
Race Rating: polling has shown DeWine with a small lead, but the race has not been surveyed since early October
Auditor of State
Incumbent: Mary Taylor, elected 2006 (running for Lt. Gov)
Dave Yost (Republican)
Previous Elected Office: Delaware County Prosecutor (2003-present), Delaware County Auditor (1999-2003)
In his first bid for statewide office, Dave Yost has positioned himself comfortably amongst conservatives, touting his endorsements by the Buckeye Firearms Association, Ohio Right to Life, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell on his website. Yost has called for the repeal of the federal healthcare law and a full performance audit of every state agency. The Columbus Dispatch said “[Yost’s] history lends confidence that he can help guide state and local governments through challenging times, with competence and professionalism” in its endorsement.
David Pepper (Democratic)
Previous Elected Office: Hamilton County Commissioner (2006-present)
When David Pepper entered the race in 2009, he was expecting to face the incumbent, Mary Taylor. When Taylor was selected as Kasich’s running mate, Pepper had a chance to focus on his general election campaign while the Republican field was sorted out in the primary election. Ohioans have recently shown a penchant for electing the “out” party to the Auditor position, as Taylor was the only Republican elected statewide in her 2006 victory. With the Republicans seeming likely to win most other races, Pepper might flip the roles and be Ohio’s only statewide Democrat come 2011. His campaign pledges – fighting to fix a “broken Columbus” – sound odd considering that his party is in control.
L. Michael Howard (Libertarian)
Race Rating: with virtually no polling, Pepper’s leads in fundraising and endorsements are the only hints that this race might not be caught in the Republican wave
Secretary of State
Incumbent: Jennifer Brunner, elected 2006 (lost Democratic nomination for Senate)
Maryellen O’Shaughnessy (Democrat)
Previous Elected Office: Franklin County Clerk of Common Pleas Court (2009-present), Columbus City Council (1997-2009)
O’Shaughnessy has only recently become the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, after Ohio House member Jennifer Garrison withdrew from the race in the summer. O’Shaughnessy’s campaign pledges revolve around her plan to change the way Ohio does legislative redistricting and a promise to serve only two terms. Every Ohio Secretary of State since the 1980s has made a run for higher office from the position, so if O’Shaughnessy keeps her promise it will be a significant change. In fact, she’s used the elected experience of her opponent as a line of attack, attempting to turn his experience into a weakness. O’Shaughnessy has struggled to raise cash.
Jon Husted (Republican)
Previous Elected Office: Ohio Senate (2009-present), Ohio House (2001-2009)
Husted’s campaign got off to a rocky start in late 2008 when his residency in his Senate district was questioned. A tied local panel sent the case to the Secretary of State to cast the tie-breaking vote, where Jennifer Garrison, a Democrat, ruled he did not live in the district he represented. The Ohio Supreme Court unanimously overruled her decision. Husted’s calls for job creation and debt reduction, in addition to his own plans to reform Ohio’s legislative redistricting process, have earned Husted the endorsement of every Ohio newspaper so far.
Charles R. Earl (Libertarian)
Race Rating: with contradictory polling, this race is probably best thought of as a toss-up
Treasurer of State
Incumbent: Ken Boyce, appointed 2009
Josh Mandel (Republican)
Previous Elected Office: Ohio House (2007-present)
If you’ve heard of one race in Ohio other than the Senate and Governor’s races, it’s probably the Treasurer’s race. Mandel made headlines around the state when his campaign aired an ad alleging that incumbent Ken Boyce was a Muslim who handed out jobs at his mosque. The ad was widely criticized for attempting to exploit anti-Muslim biases, and the Mandel campaign stopped airing the ad. Mandel’s campaign image revolves around his service in the Marines, where he served two terms in Iraq.
Kevin Boyce (Democrat)
Previous Elected Office: Columbus City Council (2000-2009)
Boyce was appointed treasurer by Governor Strickland in 2009, after incumbent Cordray was elected Attorney General. Boyce’s campaign has made some highly exaggerated claims about his record, including a statement that his office created 55,000 jobs, a statement PolitiFact rated “Pants on Fire,” their worst rating. Boyce has also received criticism for allegedly giving jobs and business to friends. The race has split the major newspapers, and the Plain Dealer even endorsed the Libertarian candidate.
Matthew P. Cantrell (Libertarian)
Race Rating: polls show the race tied, and Mandel’s fundraising advantage is the only signal that this will be anything but a toss-up
United States Senator
Incumbent: George Voinovich, elected 1998
Rob Portman (Republican)
Previous Elected Office: US Congress (1993-2005)
In addition to his time in Congress, Portman has served in two Cabinet-level positions for President George W. Bush. Portman’s campaign has saddled Lee Fisher with the same 400,000 lost jobs number used against Strickland, but Portman’s campaign has an additional line of attack – Fisher served as Ohio’s Development Director, tasked with job creation, since 2007. Portman’s major campaign platforms center around opposition to recent Democratic initiatives, such as healthcare reform and cap-and-trade. Portman has held a lead in the polls since mid-summer and currently polls around 56% support, a comfortable number.
Lee Fisher (Democrat)
Previous Elected Office: Lieutenant Governor (2007-present), Attorney General (1991-1995), Ohio Senate (1983-1990), Ohio House (1981-1982)
Fisher has been a mainstay in Ohio politics for nearly thirty years. In addition to his elected positions, he also ran for Governor in 1998. Fisher won his party’s nomination after defeating Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. His campaign has tried to tie Portman to mostly unpopular former President George W. Bush, but the tactic has not worked. Fisher has replaced his campaign manager several times, and his campaign is essentially out of money. Despite his struggling candidacy, Fisher has maintained his liberal positions, such as support for the addition of a public option to healthcare reform.
Michael L. Pryce (Independent)
Eric W. Deaton (Constitution)
Daniel H. LaBotz (Socialist)
Arthur T. Sullivan (write-in)
Race Rating: Every major election predictor has called the race for Portman. An upset here would be historic
Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court
Incumbent: Eric Brown, appointed 2010
Maureen O’Connor (Republican)
Previous Judicial Experience: Ohio Supreme Court (2003-present), Summit County Court of Common Pleas (1993-1995)
O’Conner, in addition to her judicial experience, also served as Ohio’s lieutenant governor from 1999-2003 under Governor Bob Taft. A recent change in Ohio law allows judges to openly indentify with the party that endorsed them, but their party will not appear on the ballot.
Eric Brown (Democrat)
Previous Judicial Experience: Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice (2010-present), Franklin County Probate Court Judge (2009-2010), Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge (2005-2008)
Eric Brown was already running for Chief Justice when the incumbent Chief Justice, Thomas Moyer, died during the summer. Governor Strickland appointed him to the seat, making him the incumbent.
Race Rating: O’Connor held a commanding lead in the only poll of the race, but the poll is likely too old to be accurate
Justice of the Supreme Court
Incumbent: Judith Ann Lanzinger, elected 2004
Mary Jane Trapp (Democrat)
Previous Judicial Experience: Court of Appeals Judge (2007-present)
Trapp earned the only perfect 4.0 rating for any Supreme Court candidate by the Judicial Candidates Ratings Coalition.
Judith Ann Lanzinger (Republican)
Previous Judicial Experience: Ohio Supreme Court (2005-present), Court of Appeals Judge, Lucas County Court of Common Pleas Judge, Toledo Municipal Court
Lanzinger is the only judge in the history of the Supreme Court to have served at all four levels of the judiciary in Ohio. She recently started a blog at justicejudy.blogspot.com.
Race Rating: the only poll of the race showed the contest a toss-up
How To Vote
You have two options for voting this close to the election. You can cast an absentee vote in-person at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (about a 10 minute ride downtown on the Health Line) up through Monday, or vote at your polling place on Tuesday between 6:30 AM and 7:30 PM. The CC BoE website lists in-person voting hours as well as a simple tool to find your Election Day voting location. ID is required – acceptable forms of ID are also listed on the website.
To learn more about these candidates, start with the candidate’s website. Pay attention not only to the issues they talk about, but also which issues they place the most emphasis on. Read the newspaper endorsements in each race – even if you don’t trust endorsements, the reasoning each paper describes will frequently mention the key issues and campaign details in each race, which can then be explored in more detail. The third-party ratings of judges displayed at judge4yourself.com are a good way to learn more about these normally obscure races, and chooseyourjudges.org will attempt to match your judicial opinions with the candidates. Votesmart.org will do the same for the non-judicial races.
Ohio Secretary of State Website: sos.state.ohio.us
Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Website: boe.cuyahogacounty.us
Project Vote Smart: votesmart.org
Judicial Candidates Ratings Coalition Website: judge4yourself.com
Choose Your Judges Website: chooseyourjudges.org
Individual Candidate Websites