2014. A midterm year and all the statewide offices are up for grabs here in Ohio. There will likely be little movement in the State Legislature or Ohio Congressional Delegation since Republicans gerrymandered the State to within an inch of its life in 2011. Those current districts resemble some mad Rorschach test put together by someone tripping their ass off.

Governor John Kasich is in a make-or-break reelection bid that may determine whether he makes a run for The White House. It is doubtful if, after losing the Governor’s Office, he could make a case to the GOP Primary voters of his viability as a candidate. After all, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum failed to do so in 2012. Although Santorum did make a strong run in spite of being crushed in his Senate reelection bid in 2006. His conservative take on Catholicism seemed more like the unforgiving evangelical wing of the party than the Church of Rome. Santorum seemed happy to restore the 16th century church with him as Torquemada leading a restoration of the Inquisition.

State Treasurer Josh Mandel (The Eddie Haskell of Ohio Politics) will have a tough run for reelection against the indestructible Connie Pillich after Senator Sherrod Brown handed him his ass in 2012. Populist Democrat State Senator Nina Turner is going after Secretary of State Jon Husted. She is a fighter and not afraid to be called Liberal, something that terrifies most modern Dems. Husted’s record of attempted voter suppression resonates so far with voters. After 2012 when the Federal Judiciary slapped Husted around as he skirted a contempt citation showing voting rights are an issue and at stake. Is this Ohio or part of the Old Confederacy?

On the whole, Ohio’s Democratic candidates are well positioned this early in the election cycle. The Republican Party in Ohio has been guilty of massive overreach in the last couple of years.

The Ohio GOP has codified some of the most restrictive abortion regulations in the country. They have been going after voting eligibility to “prevent fraud” – a simple example of an answer to a nonexistent problem. It seems the Republican Party cannot believe a Democrat can carry the State without stealing it. So, the margin President Obama put up against Mittens Romney must be de facto evidence of massive voter fraud.

The legislature cut income taxes again for the wealthy (a new tradition in Ohio’s budgets) while raising and expanding the sales tax. They made it illegal to expand Medicaid in our state, which the Governor vetoed and funded in an end run around the Tea Party dominated legislature. That was promptly litigated by the far right. One party opposing expansion was Ohio Right To Life. The best way to meet women’s reproductive health needs is to deny access to it, I guess.

The crony enrichment of the Kasich Administration will likely be an issue as allegations of conflicts of interest continue to swirl around JobsOhio and the funding of failing Charter School Corporations here.

Kasich always took credit for economic growth started by his predecessor, but he now blames Ohio being near the bottom in job growth and rising unemployment on Washington. He also seems to feel Ohio simply needs an image makeover to fuel growth by increasing our “Cool” factor, so he brings in Les Wexner of Victoria’s Secret and The Limited fame. Maybe Les will fit Kasich for angel’s wings?

There is also the specter of a couple of ballot issues turning up in November. Right To Work is a big one. This also terrifies the GOP establishment since they do not want to fight another war with Organized Labor after 2011’s debacle. The Party would rather attack labor after the election with the use of Legislative fiat.

The other looming fight is a Marriage Equality ballot issue. This would repeal and replace the Same Sex marriage ban enshrined in our Constitution since 2004. The State AG is currently planning an appeal to protect this ban in the Federal Courts after being forced to recognize all marriages on a death certificate. Clearly a threat to the stability of the world.  Both issues will galvanize the Right and Left, driving what could be record turnout for an Ohio midterm.

So, as the election cycle finally heats up in this cold winter, it will be a battle for the direction that Ohio will move in the years to come. Will we move forward or continue the Tea Party push to restore the Middle Ages as the guiding force for our future?

This election is a fight for Ohio’s soul. It’s gonna be a helluva ride to November. Buckle up.


Read more from Thomas Givens at An Old Lefty