Our Last Stand: 2022 Will Be The “Make or Break” Year For Ohio Democrats
2022 could see a new Ohio Governor, a new United States Senator, a Democratic majority on the Ohio Supreme Court, and a chance to overturn the decades-long political gerrymandering that has locked Democrats out of districts both at the Statehouse and in Congress… but only if they’re willing to put it all on the line.
With 2022 now upon us, it has become more and more clear just how important this election cycle will be for Democrats across the country, but especially here in the state of Ohio. There will be a very large number of offices up for election including but not limited to:
- the Constitutional offices (Governor, Lt Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Auditor)
- 3 seats on the Ohio Supreme Court (including the Chief Justiceship)
- 15 seats in the United States House of Representatives
- 1 open United States Senate seat
- 99 seats in the Ohio House
- 17 seats in the Ohio Senate
With so much on the line, Democrats across the state are eyeing the prospects of reversing the decades-long single-party control across the state that Republicans have enjoyed which has led to a culture of corruption and malpractice which is evident by Ohio now being seen as the corruption capital of the United States. But how is this going to be accomplished and why are these elections themselves so important?
Constitutional Executive Offices
In 2022, there will be 6 executive office positions on the ballot. This includes that of:
- Governor (Mike DeWine, R) *
- Lt. Governor (Jon Husted, R)
- Attorney General (Dave Yost, R)
- Auditor of State (Keith Faber, R) *
- Secretary of State (Frank LaRose, R) *
- Treasurer of State (Robert Sprague, R)
The Governor and other elected officials play a major role in the outcome that Ohioans see year after year. The Governor, for one, proposes a state budget that highlights many important policy initiatives and goal areas that they would like to see implemented for the following fiscal year. Having a Governor who prioritizes the people of Ohio over businesses and other interests can put us on track to become a more prosperous and better off society for all regardless of where they live and what they do for a living.
The Secretary of State
The Secretary of State oversees the administration of election laws, reviews statewide initiatives and referendum petitions, and is the chair of the Ohio Ballot Board. This role is critical as we have seen attempts to suppress the vote across Ohio by limiting counties to having a single dropbox for absentee ballots regardless of population, purging voter rolls, and making it generally difficult to vote. By having a Secretary of State who values the vote, we can not only expand access to all eligible voters across the state, but we can engage voters who have long been turned away or have had obstacles placed before them so that they may engage in their constitutional right to vote.
These elected officials also play another major role in another process that was recently implemented by Ohioans at the ballot box. The Redistricting Committee will be used for the first time to redraw both the Statehouse and Congressional districts for the state of Ohio. This is a 7-member panel composed of one individual each appointed by the Governor, Secretary of State, and Auditor of State as well as the Ohio Senate President, Speaker of the Ohio House, Ohio Senate Minority Leader, and the Ohio House Minority Leader (this year, each appointee has been themselves) who help to redraw the districts in a free and fair manner. The committee — most members who are Republicans — have drawn maps that greatly benefit Republican elected officials and candidates over Democrats, a process known as gerrymandering.
In short, by electing Democrats to be the next Governor, Secretary of State, and Auditor of State, we have a shot at drawing fair maps that represent the will of the voters in the state of Ohio. The redistricting commission was adopted by Ohio voters to increase transparency and ensure maps are passed on a bipartisan basis and so far, we have not seen that. The maps that have been passed do not meet the threshold required and thus will only be in effect for 4 years. At the end of this period, the elected officials who were chosen in 2022 will still be in office and have a say over the new maps. This is our time as democrats to come together to ensure that our voters, as well as every other voter, across the state, are guaranteed to have their vote taken into consideration when redrawing the maps.
Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Supreme Court will be crucial for Democrats if we want to stop the decades-long abuse of our government by Republican elected officials. With a current 4–3 Republican majority, the Ohio Supreme Court will have 3 members up for election (Maureen O’Connor, Pat Fischer, and Pat DeWine), and by simply flipping one of the seats, Democrats will hold a majority. Why is this important?
Back during the 2010 election cycle, the court decided on a vote of 4–3 to keep the maps that were drawn in place for the full 10 years. The one deciding vote was Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor herself. By guaranteeing a Democratic majority on the Ohio Supreme Court, we can ensure the court will fight for free and fair elections by guaranteeing Ohioans have districts in Congress and at the Statehouse that aren’t drawn to favor one party over another. There are currently lawsuits before the Supreme Court regarding the temporary 4-year maps that were passed last year and only time will tell if Chief Justice O’Connor will side with the 3 democratic justices to throw out the maps and force the redistricting committee to redraw the maps.
United States House and United States Senate
Per the regulations of the United States Constitution, Ohio now has 15 Congressional districts — down from a previous 16 — which will need to be redrawn due to changing populations and demographics across the state. As of the 2020 election cycle, Democrats held only 4 of the 16 congressional districts while receiving just over 45% of the statewide vote share for President. This stark contrast in vote share and representation shows the impact of Republican gerrymandering from the 2010 redistricting cycle. We know these districts are gerrymandered simply by the examination that over the last decade between 2012 and 2020 that the districts were in place, not one district has flipped control from one party to another.
By regaining control of districts that have been drawn unfairly in the past, Democrats can not only represent the constituents of Ohio but also help Democrats keep control of the United States House of Representatives and pick up a seat in the United States Senate with the open Senate race on the ballot in 2022.
Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives
In a similar vein as the need to elect Democrats to the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, the Ohio Statehouse has long been in Republican control due to political gerrymandering which has given Republicans a supermajority in both chambers for over a decade. By leveling the playing field, we can begin to hold our elected officials accountable, pass legislation that is meant to benefit the middle-class Ohioan over special interests or corporations, and guarantee we are building a sustainable and equitable future in Ohio.
Democrats have long been waiting for a moment to regain control, level the playing field, and stop Republican corruption in its tracks. 2022 will be that year, but only if we allow it to be. Republicans have long been able to coalesce around single candidates, turn out their voters, and win across the state. Democrats need to take a note from their playbook, engage in a strong ground game strategy to get voters invested and involved, and turnout like we haven’t since the election of Barack Obama in 2008 if we want to have any shot at being competitive in November 2022. By doing so, Ohio can begin moving in a direction of equity and inclusion of all Ohioans and not just those of one party at the expense of the other.