Weekly Legislative Report: Running mates, the Republican Senate race and redistricting

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​Jan. 11, 2018

The kids are now back to their regularly scheduled reading, 'riting and 'rithmitic following the looong winter break, and this week our friends on Capitol Square are focused on their own three Rs: Running mates, the Republican Senate race and redistricting.

Here's the rundown:

Running Mates

It's been a very busy week for onboarding running mates and with a looming Feb. 7 deadline to file with the requisite 1,000 signatures to reserve a spot on Ohio’s primary election ballot, most candidates running for Governor have now firmed up their tickets.

As you will recall, Attorney General Mike DeWine was first out of the gate, teaming up with his former rival for the nomination, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and effectively narrowing the Republican field to three.

This week, former Attorney General Richard Cordray employed a similar strategy, traveling to Akron to announce that instead of mounting her own campaign, former Congresswoman Betty Sutton would join his ticket for the Democratic nomination.

This would have meant one less competitor for Cordray to contend with had former Congressman Dennis Kucinch not taken steps to throw his hat in the ring. Kucinich filed paperwork at the Ohio Secretary of State's office this week to form a campaign committee for Governor. So, if you are keeping score, there still looks to be six contenders on the Democratic side.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill also this week released a video introducing his running mate—Chantelle Lewis, a Lorain school principal and former East Cleveland Council member.

Mary Taylor, currently Lt. Governor of Ohio, has tapped Nathan Estruth, a veteran Cincinnati business executive, to be her Lt. Governor should she be successful in securing the Republican nomination. Estruth has served as the CEO of iMFLUX and a vice president of Proctor & Gamble FutureWorks.

As previously reported, Republican Congressman Jim Renacci, (though considering a run for U.S. Senate (more on that below)), has formed the Renacci-Murray ticket with Cincinnati City Council member Amy Murray, and the Schiavoni-Dodd ticket consists of Democratic State Senator Joe Schiavoni and State Board of Education member Stephanie Dodd.

No word yet on who will run with former State Representative Connie Pillich, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley or yet-to-formally-announce-his-bid Dennis Kucinich. 

Republican Senate Race

Perhaps more surprising than any of the gubernatorial running mate news was State Treasurer Josh Mandel's announcement that he would be pulling out of the race to unseat U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, in order to devote more time and attention to his family as his wife grapples with a health issue.

That leaves announced candidates Donald Elijah Eckhart and Melissa Ackison, as well as businessman Mike Gibbons, who in an effort to clear the field, upped the ante by $5 million on what he is willing to contribute from his own personal fortune to run a competitive race. That did not quell the speculation about the potential that certain Republican governors and gubernatorial candidates might jump into the race. Governor Kasich has said he's out. Jon Husted and Mary Taylor have both said they are staying the course (running for Lt. Gov and Gov. respectively), but Jim Renacci is reportedly considering the possibility if he can secure President Trump’s blessing. In fact, it has been reported that after a positive meeting at the White House Wed., Renacci could share his plans as early as today. It has also been reported that Senate Republican leaders are putting the full court press on J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, to take up the Republican mantle. Much more on this to come.

But whatever may come and politics aside, our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandel family.

Redistricting

And finally, Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima) unveiled a long-awaited proposal to reform the way Ohio draws its congressional districts at a Wed. meeting of the Senate Government Oversight Committee. The leaders of the four legislative caucuses (Senate Rs, Senate Ds, House Rs, House Ds) have been in discussions about what a reform proposal might look like since early fall, while at the same time, a group known as Fair Districts = Fair Elections is actively collecting signatures to put a citizen-initiated proposal on Ohio’s November ballot.   

Though the Huffman draft language has not yet been introduced, the General Assembly would reportedly retain map-making authority under the new proposal, but the map they draw would need to earn 3/5 vote in each chamber, including one third of minority party members – thereby increasing the influence of the party not in power. You can read more in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Republicans are ultimately hoping for a bipartisan plan, but legislative Democrats are so far not on board. In order to get the legislative proposal on the May primary ballot, Republicans will need to get a three-fifths vote in each chamber by Feb. 7—a hurdle that with their sizable majorities—they can achieve without Democratic votes.

Week Ahead  

Formal hearings will begin on the new redistricting proposal in the Senate and committees in both chambers will be in full swing following the holiday break. Both the Ohio House and Senate are scheduled for voting sessions on Wed. Jan. 17.

Tracking OSBA Legislation  

In the meantime, you can always track OSBA priority bills and bills we are watching via the Legislative section at www.OhioBar.org.
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