May 3rd Ohio Primary Predictions


Nick Watts, Perspectives Editor '22

To anyone who has been following Ohio politics for the last year, you would most definitely agree with the conclusion that there is only one word to describe the sequence of events: rollercoaster. Now, on Tuesday, May 3rd, it all comes to a head. Our retiring Senator Rob Portman’s announcement that he would not seek a third term set off a brutal, bitter, and frankly shameful primary contest between five major candidates. Governor DeWine is being primaried by multiple die-hard Trumpers while two big-city Ohio mayors duke it out for the Democrat nomination. Finally, the inexcusable collapse of the redistricting process due to the actions of Republicans who can’t help themselves from gerrymandering has thrown the biggest wrench of all into this primary. In 2018, Ohioans passed an anti-gerrymandering law that everyone expected would put an end to the practice. Ever since January, when the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the gerrymandered new maps, it has been a back-and-forth between the Republicans on the Commission and the 4-3 majority on the Ohio Supreme Court that keeps striking down the unfair maps. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor – who is in her final term due to age limits – has been the deciding vote on all of the redistricting-related cases. Justice Pat DeWine, Governor Mike DeWine’s son, refuses to recuse himself from ruling on most these cases despite the fact that his father is one of the Republicans obstructing this process. He only chose to recuse himself from the hearing about whether the governor should be held in contempt of court for refusing to produce fair maps. Since the clock has run out, the fourth set of unfair maps proposed by the Redistricting Commission, despite not earning the backing of a single Democrat, will be the maps used in this primary. This redistricting mess is the kind of leadership that Ohioans are seeing from Columbus Republicans and is no doubt the largest cloud looming over the primary. Despite all of this, I will make my own projections for each of the major races.


Ohio Governor: DeWine survives and Cranley prevails

My official projection for the Republican primary for governor is that Governor DeWine will survive primary challenges from everyone, including former Representative Jim Renacci, the 2018 Republican nominee for Senate. I believe that Renacci may run up the numbers, however I don’t think it will be enough to knock off an incumbent governor from capturing the nomination. A bruised and battered DeWine emerging from a close primary election, however, would not be a good start heading into a general election against a strong Democratic opponent.

That strong Democratic opponent, in my mind, comes in the form of former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. I think Cranley will closely prevail in his primary against former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. Cranley has done an excellent job pushing out ads that contrast his record from DeWine’s and Whaley’s. His crossover appeal to moderate democrats should be enough for him to carry the day on Tuesday. Having watched his debate performances and listened to his speeches, I believe that he is the more qualified candidate to win the primary and would be a more formidable opponent against DeWine than Whaley would be. I have a feeling that most Ohio Democrats will agree with that conclusion on Tuesday.


Ohio Senate: Ryan skates to the nomination while Dolan and Vance battle it out for theirs

The Republican primary for Senate set off by Portman’s retirement has been the most embarrassing and shameful campaign amongst candidates that I have ever seen. Whether its Josh Mandel screaming about how he will go to Washington to be “reinforcements for conservative fighters like Ted Cruz” or the fact that he believes that fellow Republicans Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, and Adam Kinzinger are “traitors to our country,” a serious accusation that Mandel throws around like candy, or Timken insulting the manhood of her opponents, it seems there is no sludge too dirty for these candidates to roll around in. Despite this, State Senator Matt Dolan has been a light among the darkness of the other candidates. Voters have taken notice of this and has set off a surge in polling for Dolan. Donald Trump’s pick in this primary, JD Vance, has also enjoyed a recent polling surge, leading me to believe that it is now a two-way race between Vance and Dolan. Vance, for his part, has remarked how little he cares about what happens in Ukraine and how we should only be focused on ourselves here in America. I would like to believe that a large enough portion of sane voters will pick the qualified State Senator Matt Dolan to represent the Republican Party is this year’s Senate election. I worry deeply for our great State of Ohio if they don’t.

Finally, I don’t imagine a scenario where Columbus-area attorney Morgan Harper beats U.S. Representative Tim Ryan out for the Democratic slot in the November Senate contest. Ryan has been the frontrunner since the race began and Harper has failed to gain any real traction since then. It would go down as one of the greatest political upsets in the country’s history if Harper were to win and I have seen no indication of that scenario playing out. Democrats’ best bet would be to get Harper’s concession as quickly as possible and rally everyone, including Harper, around Ryan as fast as possible to try and pull off another upset, beating the Republican nominee in November.