We’ve all seen far too often what happens when legislative bodies are non-representative of their constituents. Infamous images abound of panels of elderly, white, wealthy, Republican men staring down on women and people of color from their positions of power, enacting policies to benefit and enrich themselves at the harm of everybody else.
It’s long overdue that we should see an influx of women into the Ohio House of Representatives and State Senate. To say the least, it’s incredibly frustrating that 27 of the 33 State Senate seats and 76 of the 99 House of Representative seats in Ohio are held by men, with both bodies controlled by Republican supermajorities.
There’s a movement of women hoping to change that on Nov. 6 as the midterm elections rapidly approach. 46 elections in our state’s legislative bodies will feature a Democratic woman running to defeat a Republican man or claim a seat in an unopposed election.
The future is female and Ohio’s women have come to claim that future now. The legislature is far too important for it to remain an Old Boys’ Club, especially when we’ve seen how poorly they’ve handled their responsibilities. Women’s issues on abortion, healthcare, and personal freedoms are at the forefront of elections around the state and country. Don’t let them go to the backburner.
At the bottom of this article, Plunderbund has compiled a list of each of these races where a Democratic woman runs against a Republican man, a Libertarian or for an unopposed seat as a guide for where to target your votes this fall. In the interim, we highlight five of the most interesting races you should keep your eye on.
State Senate District 19
After being term-limited in the Ohio House, Koch-backed Republican official Andrew Brenner is looking to continue his political career in the State Senate. He’s facing a stiff challenge from Democratic challenger Louise Valentine, who has justifiably slammed Brenner for taking $27,000 of dirty money from ECOT founder Bill Lager and refusing to return it. Valentine would be the first Democratic challenger to flip a Republican-held State Senate in 12 years, but there are positive signs in this race for Valentine.
She’s generated significant excitement in a district that Republicans are not used to working hard for. Brenner, meanwhile, is encouraging Republicans to never meet with the League of Women Voters. The contrast could not possibly more clear.
The world according to Andrew Brenner
Being a ???: cool
Being a ?????: too radical
— ? 20 DAYS TO VOTE ? (@plunderbund) October 16, 2018
Ohio House District 19
This district in suburban Columbus — Westerville, New Albany and Gahanna — has voted in favor of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Democratic Congressional candidate Danny O’Connor in the special election earlier in 2018. Now, long-time university educator Mary Lightbody is hoping to convert that Democratic support into a victory and a seat in the State House. Polling numbers are reportedly strong for Lightbody, who faces Republican insurance agent Tim Barhorst, a crony of fellow GOP member and hopeful future Speaker of the House, the unfortunately aptly named Larry Householder.
Ohio House District 21
It’s a similar story in District 21 as it is in District 19. A suburban district in Franklin County that went for both Clinton and O’Connor in a major way, Dr. Beth Liston is hoping to flip the suburbs back to blue in central Ohio. She’ll have to defeat Republican hopeful Stu Harris for this open seat to do so.
Ohio House District 24
Stop me if you’ve heard this before — District 24 is a well-educated, suburban district in the Columbus area that voted for Clinton by a large majority and that has a departed, long-time Republican incumbent leaving an open seat that’s up for grabs. Democratic candidate Allison Russo has a background as a policy research director in the health field, which could be incredibly valuable in an election that hinges so much on health care. A former Kasich policy staffer, Erik Yassenoff, is her opponent.
— Alexis Miller (@Alexis_C_Miller) October 5, 2018
Ohio House District 88
Breaking away from the confines of the greater Columbus area, we’ll turn our focus to a race that has received some national headlines. Rachel Crooks is the Democratic challenger, a woman from the northwest Ohio region who has accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her while she lived in New York in 2005. Crooks has run a strong campaign, but she faces an uphill battle against Republican incumbent Bill Reineke. Still, her story is powerful and the impressive candidate refuses to let the Trump accusation define her.
Ohio State Senate
- District 7 – Sara Bitter vs Steve Wilson (incumbent)
- District 11 – Teresa Fedor vs Ernest McCarthy – Open seat
- District 13 – Sharon Sweda vs Nathan Manning – Open seat
- District 19 – Louise Valentine vs Andrew Brenner – Open seat
- District 23 – Nickie Antonio vs Steve Flores – Open seat
- District 29 – Lauren Friedman vs Kirk Schuring – Open seat
- District 31 – Melinda Miller vs Jay Hottinger (incumbent)
Ohio House of Representatives
- District 9 – Janine Boyd (incumbent) vs Joe Miller
- District 12 – Juanita Brent – Unopposed – Open seat
- District 14 – Bridge Rose Sweeney vs Ryan McClain (Libertarian) – Open seat
- District 18 – Kristin Boggs (incumbent) vs David Todd
- District 19 – Mary Lightbody vs Tim Barhorst – Open seat
- District 21 – Beth Liston vs Stu Harris – Open seat
- District 24 – Allison Russo vs Erik Yassenoff – Open seat
- District 25 – Bernadine Kennedy Kent (incumbent) vs Debbie Staggs
- District 26 – Erica Crawley vs Shareeque Arife Sadiq – Open seat
- District 27 – Christine Fisher vs Tom Brinkman Jr. (incumbent)
- District 28 – Jessica Miranda vs Jonathan Dever (incumbent)
- District 29 – Carrie Davis vs Louis W Blessing (incumbent)
- District 31 – Brigid Kelly (incumbent) – Unopposed – Open seat
- District 34 – Emilia Sykes (incumbent) vs Josh Sines
- District 35 – Tavia Golonski (incumbent) vs Osita Obierika
- District 40 – Ryan Rebecca Taylor vs Phil Plummer – Open seat
- District 44 – Paula Hicks-Hudson -Unopposed – Open seat
- District 45 – Lisa Sobecki vs David Davenport – Open seat
- District 48 – Lorraine Wilburn vs Scott Oelslager – Open seat
- District 50 – Cassie Gabelt vs Reggie Stoltzfus – Open seat
- District 52 – Kathy Wyenandt vs George Lang (incumbent)
- District 54 – Nikki Foster vs Paul Zeltwanger (incumbent)
- District 58 – Michele Lepore-Hagan (incumbent) vs David Simon
- District 65 – Patricia Lawrence vs John Becker (incumbent)
- District 68 – Kathleen Tate vs Rick Carfagna (incumbent)
- District 69 – Carol Brenstuhl vs Rick Carfagna (incumbent)
- District 73 – Kim McCarthy vs Rick Perales (incumbent)
- District 74 – Anne Gorman vs Bill Dean (incumbent)
- District 75 – Randi Clites vs Jim Lutz – Open seat
- District 78 – Amber Daniels vs Ron Hood (incumbent)
- District 79 – Amanda Finfrock vs Kyle Koehler (incumbent)
- District 81 – Janet Breneman vs James Hoops (incumbent)
- District 83 – Mary Harshfield vs Jon Cross – Open seat
- District 87 – Mary Pierce-Broadwater vs Riordan McClain (incumbent)
- District 88 – Rachel Crooks vs Bill Reineke (incumbent)
- District 90 – Adrienne Buckler vs Brian Baldridge – Open seat
- District 92 – Beth Workman vs Gary Scherer (incumbent)
- District 93 – Samantha Thomas-Bush vs Ryan Smith (incumbent)
- District 97 – Kristine Geis vs Brian Hill (incumbent)
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