14 votes.

That’s how close Democrats are to avoiding something just shy of the worst-case-scenario in the Ohio statehouse.

Republicans currently control the 99-member Ohio House of Representatives with a 59 member majority. That’s plenty to pass legislation into law, as we’ve seen since 2010. But if the GOP had 60 votes, their powers increase.

With a 60-vote “super majority,” legislative Republicans add to their powers in two key ways:

1. With 60 votes, the GOP can unilaterally put measures on the ballot. Typically, because of the 60-vote requirement, measures placed on the ballot legislatively are popular, bipartisan proposals like the renewal of the state’s Third Frontier program. Now, with 60 seats, they could bring fetal personhood and Right to Work to the voters without the costly and time-consuming requirement of collecting hundreds of thousands of valid signatures.

3. 60 votes is a veto-proof majority. This will matter in 2014 if Democrats retake the Governor’s office. But it also matters now (and plays into 2014) because it allows the GOP agenda to pass without Kasich’s fingerprints. Republicans could pass new restrictions on voting, on collective bargaining or women’s rights, Kasich could veto them, and they could still become law, allowing Kasich to look like a moderate to voters as he heads toward 2014, while his party’s agenda moves forward intact.

Right now, incumbent Al Landis leads challenger Josh O’Farrell by 14 votes in the 98th House District. That margin will trigger a recount, but if the results hold, Republicans will have a supermajority starting in January. ┬áIf you thought the General Assembly that took office in 2010 was bad (think 4 abortion bans, SB5 and a budget that cut schools & local governments while giving new tax breaks to oil companies and the rich), you haven’t seen anything yet.

This is why you’re getting urgent emails from Chris Redfern asking for money to fight for every vote in the 98th district. It’s also why it’s so important to counter Jon Husted’s efforts to throw out legitimate votes.

Because we only need 14.


Correction: an earlier draft of this post indicated a 60-vote majority was sufficient to pass emergency measures, making them not subject to the referendum. The Ohio Constitution requires two-thirds of the members — or 66 votes — to make legislation referendum-proof.

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