One of the most interesting set of results in yesterday’s election came in Ohio’s Supreme Court where two incumbents – one Republican and one Democrat – lost their seats.

Democratic Justice Yvette McGee Brown was at the top of most fundraising lists throughout the campaign.

Brown received the coveted Ohio FOP endorsement with nearly unanimous support despite the fact that her opponent, Sharon Kennedy, had once been a police officer.

And The Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) rated Justice Brown “Highly Recommended” while her opponent Sharon Kennedy received the first “Not Recommended” rating in recent memory.

And yet, Kennedy won the race.

Despite her great fundraising and her opponent’s lack of qualifications, history was not on Yvette’s side. No Democrat has won a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court since 2000.

Which is why Bill O’Neill’s victory yesterday took many by surprise.

This was Democrat O’Neill’s third attempt at running for the Supreme Court. While O’Neill has 11 years of judicial experience he has most recently spent time working as an emergency room nurse in Cleveland. O’Neill received a “Recommended” rating from the OSBA compared to sitting Justice Cupp’s “Highly Recommended”.

But the most interesting and strangely exciting part about O’Neill and his win last night? He vowed to take no campaign contributions.

This no-money pledge is not new for O’Neill. He made it during his other two campaigns as well. But this time he actually won.

Cupp’s most recent campaign finance report shows $473,370 cash on hand.

O’Neill’s shows 0 dollars, the campaign having spent the $166.95 they had on hand from the previous report.

More than a few people are currently scratching their heads.

The poorly-timed, rape-themed ad released by the Ohio Republican Party against O’Neill certainly didn’t help Cupp in this race. But it seems unlikely that was the cause of this loss.

Another possibility: Kennedy and O’Neill are both good, Democratic sounding names. Without party affiliation on the ballots, it’s possible they both benefited from high Democratic turnout.

While it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing any other candidates – judicial or otherwise – adopting O’Neill’s no-money strategy any time soon, we might just find Republicans rethinking their stance on party affiliation and ballots – or possibly just expanding their strategy for choosing candidates with last names that have cross-party appeal.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell was the only candidate who kept his seat, defeating Democrat state Sen. Mike Skindell.

  • pb_dirtgirl

    Skindell sounds like a commie name to me 🙂

  • Big Buckeye

    I have a very simple solution to add more D to the court. Just pick ones that have Irish sounding last names… Look at the results. St. Patrick!!!

  • My wife and I filed a suit in Federal Court on Oct
    16th against FIRSTENERGY naming five Republican Justices of the Ohio Supreme
    Court as “nominal” Defendants (Lisa G. Huff et al v. Firstenergy et
    al-12 CV 2583) most notably including Justice Cupp as the first named “nominal
    Defendant”. My wife’s permanent disability confining her to a nursing home
    directly involves issues surrounding a utility generated hazard.

    Both my wife and I are lifelong registered Republicans ourselves and actually
    voted for these Justices. Our suit charges that FIRSTENERGY, through its top
    executives, loaded a super majority of Republican Justices up with ILLEGAL
    (straw donor) campaign cash with the expectation of and in exchange for
    specific exclusive improper official acts in a specific case redounding to
    illegal control of the Ohio Supreme Court for their exclusive and otherwise
    unobtainable benefit. The actual facts in this case lends great credibility to
    Justice Elect O’Neill’s concern that “MONEY AND JUDGES
    MIX”. Justice Elect O’Neill has not minced words on this issue saying that
    taking money from litigants and then ruling on their case is “WRONG”. Our
    lawsuit actually provides a clear real world contemporary example of exactly
    why he is dead on right on this issue. Both Justices Cupp and O’Donnell have
    publicly mocked Justice Elect O’Neill’s inability to show a single “cause and
    effect” case. Well now there is one supported by two (2) cases in one year and
    it is a serious threat to the status quo.

    Channel 21 WFMJ did a good and fair story on this case on Oct 18th in
    which a predicable irrelevant statement of recrimination released by
    FIRSTENERGY was announced. Other news organizations became very interested and
    began investigating. The word is the Ohio GOP freaked and was anticipating that
    the story might break out. With highly questionable judicial conduct of Justice
    Cupp very compellingly detailed in our suit the GOP needed to counter with adds
    that question Justice Elect O’Neill’s judicial conduct as well. I am not saying
    that someone in the GOP did not think about the unprecedented attack before
    this event, someone may have but they were far from actually doing it. It was
    our unprecedented lawsuit that had already been on TV once that clearly pushed
    them over the edge. Look, Justice Elect O’Neill did all the heavy lifting here
    and he is beyond qualified for the job but how do people know this with no
    money. One way is to get the other side to do something that educates the electorate
    and backfires at the same time.

    I would like to think that we helped to remove a
    Justice who’s conduct as a judge and as a candidate has been highly
    questionable at best. When considering the entire picture of what happened to
    cause this unexpected result our lawsuit simply cannot be discounted altogether
    even where Justice Elect O’Neill clearly earned his victory in his own right.

    Justice Cupp himself publicly endorsed our current
    system of electing judges on the basis that it supposedly allows the people to
    hold judges accountable which all judges know is really a farce the way they
    manipulate and use their power to cover up the truth about their true
    performance and integrity to the law. It looks like for once, however,
    accountability may of actually happened. I hope this case acts as a warning to
    others, it leads to many more replacements and real reform!

  • missskeptic

    Bill O’Neill spoke at a fundraiser with his true family inspirational story – he is a widower and raised 5 kids on his own, he’s a nurse as well as an attorney and judge, the guy must have phenomenal energy. He is very passionate about not taking any outside money and I am so happy the good guy won. On the other hand, I’m sick to my stomach that Sharon Kennedy won, who was fined for wearing judge’s robes on her website when she was actually a magistrate and not entitled to wear the robes, she was deliberately misleading voters. McGee Brown will, I’m sure, not be unemployed for long. Can anyone say, Ohio’s next Attorney General?

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