ANALYSIS — Competitive primaries for the Senate and governor at the top of the ballot are overshadowing important developments in Ohio’s House races. Ohio Republicans ran roughshod over the state’s new redistricting process and could ultimately help the GOP gain seats in the Buckeye State on the road to the majority.
Republicans currently have a 12-to-4 majority in the state’s House delegation and could extend that advantage to 13-to-2 if all the competitive seats break their way. Ohio lost a seat during the reapportionment process, which explains the overall loss of a district for the state.
The new map could be tossed out by the state Supreme Court sometime after the May 3 primary. And, even in Republicans’ best case scenario, the map will only be in place for four years because of the partisan process the GOP used to implement it. But this is most likely the map for the 2022 elections.
Before the general elections take place in a trio of key contests, there are some upcoming primaries to watch.
Earlier in the cycle, it looked like the 7th District was going to host a fascinating primary as former President Donald Trump targeted GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez because of the lawmaker's vote to impeach him. Trump endorsed former White House aide Max Miller and Gonzalez decided not to run for reelection even before the district lines were finalized. GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs was running here until he abruptly dropped out of the race in the beginning of April.
That leaves Miller, who brings some baggage to the race, as the likely GOP nominee in a newly-drawn district Trump would have won by 9 points. In this political environment, that’s enough to rate the race as Solid Republican for the general election, although the district could be competitive later in the decade.
The Cleveland-anchored 11th District is hosting a competitive Democratic primary. Shontel Brown defeated former state Sen. Nina Turner 50 percent to 45 percent in the 2021 special primary election and faces Turner again in the regular primary. While Turner had the financial edge in the special election, Brown has it in this race. The congresswoman had $757,000 in the bank on April 13 compared to $143,000 for Turner. President Joe Biden would have won the 11th District with 78 percent, so the race is rated Solid Democratic for the general election and the primary is the race to watch.
Ohio's 1st District (Steve Chabot, R)
Republicans put a lot of pressure on one of their own: Rep. Steve Chabot. They drew the Cincinnati-area 1st District from a seat former President Donald Trump carried by 3 points to a district Biden would have carried by 9 points. That’s surmountable for the congressman, particularly in this political environment, but it won’t be easy.
Chabot had a modest cash advantage — $594,000 to $436,000 — on April 13 over Cincinnati Councilman Greg Landsman, who is unopposed in the race for the Democratic nomination. But Chabot is also introducing himself to nearly one-third of voters in his newly-drawn district that he doesn’t currently represent. Democrats need to win this race, but it will be hard. Initial rating: Toss-up.
Ohio's 9th District (Marcy Kaptur, D)
Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur can’t catch a break in redistricting. A decade ago, she had to defeat fellow Rep. Dennis Kucinich in a Democratic primary in order to survive. Now she must run in a newly-drawn district that is significantly different. About half of the population is new to Kaptur and it went from being a seat Biden would have carried by 19 points to one Trump would have carried by 3 points. State Sen. Theresa Gavarone, state Rep. Craig Reidel and project manager J.R. Majewski are running for the important GOP nomination. Initial rating: Toss-up.
13th District (Open; Tim Ryan, D)
The newly-drawn 13th District takes territory in northeastern Ohio from multiple other current districts, including those represented by GOP Gonzalez and Gibbs, as well as Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. But Ryan is running for Senate, and Gonzalez and Gibbs aren’t running at all.
State House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes is unopposed for the Democratic nomination, while conservative commentator/former Miss Ohio USA Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, who is also married to former NFL offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert, has been the Republican frontrunner. Shay Hawkins, a former aide to South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, is also running. Biden would have carried the new district by just 3 points, so the race is primed for a GOP takeover. Initial rating: Tilt Republican
Races rated Solid Republican
- 2nd District (Brad Wenstrup, R)
- 4th District (Jim Jordan, R)
- 5th District (Bob Latta, R)
- 6th District (Bill Johnson, R)
- 7th District (Open; Anthony Gonzalez, R)
- 8th District (Warren Davidson, R)
- 10th District (Michael R. Turner, R)
- 12th District (Troy Balderson, R)
- 14th District (David Joyce, R)
- 15th District (Mike Carey, R)
Races rated Solid Democratic
- 3rd District (Joyce Beatty, D)
- 11th District (Shontel Brown, D)
Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst for CQ Roll Call.