One of the most hotly contested races in Ohio this fall is the battle between incumbent Mike Duffey and challenger Donna O’Connor for Ohio’s 21st House District, representing the northern suburbs of Franklin County.

In 2010, Republican Mike Duffey narrowly won after both sides spent nearly $1 million in the old district, which was much more favorable to Democrats.

This election cycle, with districts redrawn to include a wider Republican margin, Duffey thought he could coast to victory without much effort. On October 7, the Dispatch reported:

At the beginning of the week, state Rep. Mike Duffey was talking about enjoying a quieter race this year.

But that quiet has been shattered. Supporters of Duffey’s opponent took to the airwaves earlier in the month with an ad targeting his votes to cut public education:

The ad is funded by Moving Ohio Forward, a group backed by statewide education organizations. The Dispatch’s Jim Siegel reported today that MOF has spent a quarter of a million dollars in support of O’Connor.

So much for Duffey’s hopes to sleepwalk to victory.

At issue are Duffey’s votes on SB5 – a bill that tied teacher pay to high stakes test scores – and the state budget, which cut funding for education by $1.8 billion.

Sharing the November ballot with Duffey are school levies in Worthington and Dublin, both of which are directly linked to state budget cuts that Duffey voted for. Taxpayers in Worthington are facing the prospect of $446 more on an average home value of $211,000, all thanks to the elimination of $10 million in state funding supported by Duffey. If the levy fails, 40 more educators will be eliminated, resulting in larger class sizes and reduced course offerings.

The Dublin levy’s passage would mean $635 in new taxes on a typical $298K home. If it fails, the district will eliminate high school busing, athletics in the middle grades, reduce college prep courses like Advanced Placement and foreign languages, increase fees for activities to $400 each, fire more teachers and increase class sizes.

These are decisions Mike Duffey says he supports making at the local level. But if John Kasich and Mike Duffey had made different choices at the state level, they wouldn’t have been necessary.

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