Listen

Presidential Race, Change In Suburbs Key Elements In Ohio House, Senate Races

Oct 28, 2020

Credit Dan Konik

The entire Ohio House and half the Senate, both of which are controlled by Republicans, are on the ballot this year.

And 2020 is proving to be challenging and difficult for candidates to run. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports.

Dave Greenspan has been in elective office for decades – in his home state of Georgia and in Ohio. For the last four years he’s been a Republican state representative from Westlake west of Cleveland.

“This is probably the most divisive political environment that I’ve ever seen.”

He’s in a competitive race with Democrat Monique Smith. Mailers have tied him to the $60 million federal corruption scandal around House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout law. He voted against that and has co-sponsored two efforts to repeal it.

Some other Republicans are getting the same treatment. But Democrats are being hit too.

Republicans lost six House seats to Democrats in 2018, and they’re now targeted the Democrats who won them, including Mary Lightbody of Westerville. She beat a candidate who’d been backed by Republican Larry Householder in his fight to become Speaker. Lightbody is now running against Republican Meredith Freedhoff.

“There’s other things that we could and should be talking about rather than this rather vicious attack ads that aren’t based in truth.”

And it’s not just incumbents - challengers who haven’t even served in the legislature are also being attacked in ads and mailers.

Both Greenspan and Lightbody are in Ohio’s suburban districts. And that’s where the heart of the battle for the Statehouse is, says David Cohen at the Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron.

“The suburbs in general, I think are really kind of it's really ground zero, I think, for this particular election and elections going forward in the near term, because in the suburbs to be very friendly territory for Republicans. But that is that is changing. And some suburbs are becoming very blue and others are very much a purple area that’s a swing area.”

While Republicans won the offices of governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state and treasurer in 2018, Democrats gained a total of five House seats – there was one Republican flip from blue to red. The GOP also took a Senate seat in the Youngstown area that had been blue. Former Ohio Democratic Party chair Chris Redfern is now working on some state House races, but he’s feeling confident.