2020 Ohio Primary Election: Results and summary

Bricker & Eckler LLP

Ohio’s primary election cycle concluded on April 28, 2020. Here are election results for the U.S. President, U.S. House of Representatives, Ohio Supreme Court, and key Ohio Senate and Ohio House races.

Background

On March 16, 2020, a case was filed in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to suspend all election activities scheduled to occur on March 17, 2020, and to have those activities rescheduled to June 2, 2020, due to concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, the plaintiffs’ motion was denied and, consequently, Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton issued an order to shut down all polls on Election Day due to the risk of COVID-19.

Following Dr. Acton’s order to shut down the polls, Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued a directive to provide clarity to the county board of elections and candidates on campaign finance filing deadlines. However, the Ohio Legislature returned the following week and passed House Bill 197, allowing the primary election to continue until April 28, 2020. All eligible voters were permitted to request and vote by absentee ballot. A limited number of voters were permitted to vote in person on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at their county boards of election.

Through this unprecedented process, our team compiled results of some races of particular note and will continue to closely watch these races and others as we move toward the general election in November. (A full list of results from the U.S. House of Representatives, Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate races with primary contests is also included.)

As results continue to come in, be advised that some of the information below may change. We will continue to update this publication as the boards of elections finalize results.

U.S. President

A large primary field of almost 20 candidates for the Democratic nomination whittled down to only one real contender for Tuesday’s contest: former Vice President Joe Biden. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders pulled out of the race for the Democratic nomination on April 8, 2020, and, while he and other candidates remained on the ballot, former Vice President Biden emerged victorious with 623,186 votes statewide. Former Vice President Biden will face President Donald Trump, who is seeking reelection and was unopposed in the Republican primary.

U.S. House of Representatives

Most congressional incumbent members had contested primaries this year. The most notable primary involved the Democratic primary for the third congressional district. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty faced a primary challenge for the first time since she won the seat in 2012. Her opponent was Morgan Harper, a former attorney with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Harper raised more money than is typical as a challenger and was supported by the progressive group Justice Democrats. But, in the end, Congresswoman Beatty easily prevailed by a 68.3 percent to 31.7 percent margin.

Also, several individuals ran in the Republican primary for thirteenth congressional district, currently held by Congressman Tim Ryan’s seat. Many observers believe the race may be competitive this fall, though Congressman Ryan prevailed easily in 2018, even with President Trump proving very popular in the area.

Ohio Supreme Court

The partisan balance of the Ohio Supreme Court hangs in the balance in 2020, but neither of the two seats on the Ohio Supreme Court had contested primaries in the 2020 primary election. Justice Judi French will run against Tenth District Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Brunner. Justice Sharon Kennedy will face Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell for her reelection. Many observers believe that behind the presidential race, these are the elections to watch in Ohio.

Ohio House

There were 29 contested primaries for Ohio House of Representative seats. With a high number of incumbents having been appointed to their positions during the current General Assembly, 2020’s primary is unique with so many incumbents being on the ballot for the first time. Incumbents were highly successful in their competitive primaries.

To note, Representative Mark Fraizer is currently winning the nomination in the 71st House District. However, the margin between the two candidates is close and may not be finalized until the official canvass. The race in the 65th House District is also within a close margin, currently with Jean Schmidt winning the nomination. In addition, Representative Jason Stephens won the nomination for the 93rd House District.

Ohio Senate

Only one incumbent faced a primary challenge: Senator Terry Johnson. Senator Johnson won his nomination with 76 percent of the vote. However, because of term limits, several open seats featured competitive Republican primaries with members of the Ohio House facing each other for the party’s nomination. In the 4th Senate District, current Representative George Lang received the nomination against current Representative Candice Keller and Lee Wong in a hotly contested race. Current Representative Bill Reineke won the nomination for the 26th Senate District after a contentious primary with Melissa Ackison, who challenged the Tiffin incumbent. Finally, current Representative Mark Romanchuck won a five-person primary in the 22nd Senate District, the current seat that President Larry Obhof, who is term limited, holds.

On the Democratic side of the aisle Crystal Lett picked up the nomination in a competitive race to face incumbent Senator Stephanie Kunze. Senate Democrats hope that the gains made by the party in suburban areas in 2018 will translate into a November victory, but Senator Kunze, the incumbent, enters the general election in a strong position due to early campaigning and fundraising efforts. It will be a race to watch. Similar to the race for the thirteenth congressional district, Senate Republicans hope changing demographics and the coattails of President Trump’s support will help them defeat incumbent Senator Sean O’Brien. In a contested primary, Republican Sandra O’Brien won the nomination and will now face Sen. O’Brien in the general election.

Potential ballot issues for the November 2020 general election

Several ballot issues were appropriately filed with the Secretary of State and approved as a single issue by the Ohio Ballot Board. However, COVID-19 will present challenges to ballot petitioners trying to collect signatures to be placed on the November ballot by the filing deadline of July 4, 2020.  Further, on April 28, 2020, Franklin County Judge David Young denied relief sought because of the COVID-19 pandemic to ballot issue groups on the signature requirements.

Recreational marijuana legalization

An amendment to regulate marijuana like alcohol, allowing recreational use for individuals over the age of 21, was filed with the Attorney General’s office on March 2, 2020. On March 10, 2020, Attorney General Yost rejected the summary of the amendment and stated that Section (A) of the amendment was not summarized in the summary filed. Attorney General Yost rejected the group’s next petition attempt on March 23, because it lacked the minimum number of valid signatures required.

Lifetime General Assembly term limits

On February 19, 2020, a group titled Ohioans for Legislative Term Limits filed an initiative petition for a constitutional amendment that limits an individual from holding state elected office more than a total of 16 years. If the constitutional amendment is approved, only years of service beginning on or after January 1, 2021 will be considered in determining the individual’s eligibility to take or hold office. In effect, this constitutional amendment will eliminate individuals from switching from each chamber but will allow currently sitting legislators to serve another 16 years, regardless of time of service to this point. The Attorney General certified the petition on February 27, 2020. The Ballot Board approved the issue as one subject on March 2, 2020. Therefore, the group that supports this measure may now begin to collect signatures to place it on the general election ballot. 

Secure and fair elections

This proposed Constitution amendment would change Ohio’s voting laws to allow same day voter registration in Ohio. The Ohio Ballot Board initially determined the issue was multiple issues and denied the group – partially backed by the ACLU – access to the ballot. The Supreme Court weighed in on April 14, 2020, and deemed the issue is a single issue and ordered the Ballot Board to certify the issue as a single issue. The group now may begin to collect signatures to place the issue on the general election ballot.

Raise the Wage Ohio

A labor-backed group filed its summary on January 17, 2020, to amend the Ohio Constitution to raise the minimum wage to $13 per hour by January 1, 2025. The Attorney General certified the petition on January 27, 2020, and, following certification from the Ohio Ballot Board that the petition contains only one issue, the petitioners can collect signatures to place the amendment on the ballot.

U.S House of Representatives

District Number

Incumbent

Candidate(s)

Republican

Democrat

1

Steve Chabot

Steve Chabot

Nikki Foster

Kate Schroder

2

Brad Wenstrup

Brad Wenstrup

H. Robert Harris

Jamie M. Castle

3

 Joyce Beatty

Celophus Dulaney

Mark F. Richardson

Joyce Beatty

Morgan Harper  

4

Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan

Shannon Freshour

Jeff Sites

Mike Larsen

5

Bob Latta

Bob Latta

Nick Rubando

Michael Xavier Carrigan

Gene Redinger

6

Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson

Kenneth Morgan III

Shawna Roberts

8

Warren Davidson

Warren Davidson

Edward R. Meer

Vanessa Enoch

Matt Guyette

9

Marcy Kaptur

Charles W. Barrett

Tim Conners

Timothy Corrigan

Rob Weber

Marcy Kaptur

Peter Rosewicz

10

Mike Turner

Mike Turner

John Anderson

Kathi Flanders

Desiree Tims

Eric Moyer

11

Marcia Fudge

Laverne Gore

Jonah Schulz

Shalira Taylor

Marcia Fudge

Michael Hood

James Jerome Bell

Tariq K. Shabazz

12

Troy Balderson

Troy Balderson

Tim Day

Jenny Bell

Alaina Shearer

13

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

Duane Hennen

Christina Hagan

Lou Lyras

Robert Santos

Richer Morckel

Donald Truex

Jason Mormando

14

Dave Joyce

Dave Joyce

Mark Pitrone

Hillary O’Connor Mueri

15

Steve Stivers

Steve Stivers

Shelby Hunter

Daniel Kilgore

Joel Newby

16

Anthony Gonzalez

Anthony Gonzalez

Aaron Paul Godfrey

Ronald Karpus III

Ohio House of Representatives Candidates
*Primary election winners in bold.

District Number

Incumbent

Candidate(s)

Republican

Democrat

1

 Scott Wiggam

Scott Wiggam

Jason Wetz

Allison Theiss

2

 

Marilyn John

Nathan Martin

Sam Grady (WI)

Carline Curry (WI)

6

 Phil Robinson

Shay Hawkins

Ed Hargate

Phil Robinson

9

Janine Boyd

Dustin Russell

Janine Boyd

Vincent E. Stokes II

10

Terrence Upchurch

 

Terrence Upchurch

J. Allen Burger

12

 Juanita Brent

Jerry Powell (WI)

Juanita Brent

Felicia W. Ross

Phyllis Ann Peterson (WI)

Isaac Powell

16

Dave Greenspan

Dave Greenspan
 

Joe Romano

Monique T. Smith

17

Adam Miller

Adam Miller

John Rutan

Timothy D. Haske

22

David Leland

Stephany Spencer

David Leland

Kashi Adhikari

25

 

James E. Burgess

Mohamud Jama

Dontavius Jarrells

Mayo T Makinde

Kofi Nsia-Pepra

28

 Jessica Miranda

Chris Monzel

Jessica Miranda

Regina Collins (WI)

32

Catherine Ingram

 

Catherine Ingram

Dadrien Washington

33

 Sedrick Denson

Mary L. Hill

Sedrick Denson
Kathy Goodwin-Williams

36

 

Bob Young

Matt Shaughnessy

Anthony Harris

39

 

John Ferrell Mullins III

Willis Blackshear Jr.

Jo’el Jones

Walter J. Hickman Jr.

42

 

Tom Young

Jacob Stubbs

 

52

 

Jennifer Gross

Mark Welch

Chuck Horn

53

 

Diane Mullins

Thomas Hall

Brett Guido

Michelle E. Novak

63

Gil Blair

Mike Loychik

Gil Blair

Werner Lange

Barry Profato

65

 

Joseph Dills

Dillion Blevins

Jean Schmidt

Alan Darnowsky

66

 

Adam Bird

Nick Owens

Allen Freeman

 

70

Darrell Kick

Darrell Kick

Terry Robertson

Kevin Barnet

71

Mark Fraizer

Mark Fraizer

Thaddeus Claggett

Mark Carr

73

 

Brian Lampton

John Broughton

Kim McCarthy

76

Diane Grendell

Diane Grendell

Frank Hall

Garrett Westhoven

78

 

Brian Stewart

Aaron Adams

Bobby Mitchell

Charlotte Owens

88

 

Gary Click

Ed Ollom

Shayne Thomas

Chris Liebold

93

Jason Stephens

Jason Stephens

Jeff Halley

 

96

 

Ron Ferguson

Charlie DiPalma

Rich Olivito

Ohio Senate Candidates
*Primary election winners in bold

District Number

Incumbent

Candidate(s)

Republican

Democrat

2

Theresa Gavarone

Theresa Gavarone

Joel O’ Dorisio

Reem Subei

4

 

George Lang

Candice KellerLee Wong

Kathy Wyenandt

6

 

Niraj Antani

Rachel Selby

Gregory Robinson

Albert Griggs Jr.

Mark Fogel

14

Terry Johnson

Terry Johnson

David Uible

Ryan Ottney

16

Stephanie Kunze

Stephanie Kunze

Crystal Lett

Mark Logan Bailey

Troy Doucet

22

 

Mark Romanchuk

Ron Falconi

Michael Reynolds

Timothy Hoven

Cory Branham

Steve Johnson

26

 

Bill Reineke

Melissa Ackison

Craig Schwartz

32

Sean O’Brien

Sandra O’ Brien

Kenneth J. Polke

Sean O’Brien

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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