Will Ohio Have A Democratic Governor In 2022?
Other “red” states across the country have Democratic governors, why should Ohio be the exception?
In recent elections, Ohio has been seen as a state that has been trending redder and redder voting for Obama twice during his presidency but reverting to elect Trump by not so narrow margins. Ohio has seen a Republican governor for 26 of the last 30 years with the last Democratic Governor being Ted Strickland from 2007 to 2011. But things might be changing here in the Buckeye state.
After his loss in 2006 to now Senator Sherrod Brown, Mike DeWine was elected to be the Attorney General of Ohio in 2010 until his election in 2018 as Governor of Ohio. Throughout his term, Governor DeWine has seen his approval rating hovering around 47% and his disapproval rating around 30%. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic response, especially the events around then Director of the Ohio Department of Health Amy Acton’s decision to step down amid outcry from the public about the states “strict” response to the global pandemic, Governor DeWine has taken a hit in popularity not just amongst Democrats and Independents across the state but Republicans as well.
Then the 2020 election happened and Governor DeWine made the mistake of calling Joe Biden the president-elect. Former President Trump took notice coming out against DeWine stating that the Republican primary will be “hotly contested”. So what does this mean for Democrats eyeing the opportunity to reclaim the Governor's office? Well, it depends on who you ask.
With a deeply divided Republican voting block in the state, many candidates have declared their intent to run in the Republican primary next year before the 2022 general. Names include Joe Blystone (a farmer from Ohio), Jim Renacci (former U.S. Representative to Ohio’s 16th Congressional District), and Governor Mie DeWine himself. If Republicans turn the primary into a battle for the nomination, it could very well benefit the Democrats in the fall, especially if Governor DeWine wins the primary as we’ve seen his popularity dip which may turn off Republican voters to turn out in November 2022. Why turn out to vote for someone you disapprove of?
On the Democratic side, only two candidates have declared their candidacy: Nan Whaley (Mayor of Dayton) and John Cranley (Mayor of Cincinnati). But can we really hope to see the successful election of a democrat in a state that has time and time again rejected them? The short answer, YES! The longer answer, yes BUT it will require A LOT of work.
If you’re skeptical, that’s ok. I was too when I first heard about the prospect of a Democratic Governor in Ohio. But let me give you some reassurances. In 2018, Kansas had a close gubernatorial election in which Laura Kelly, both a woman and a Democrat, won by a narrow 5% over her Republican challenger Kris Kobach even though Trump won the state by 15% two years later in 2020. In 2019, Kentucky help an even closer gubernatorial election in which Andy Beshear won by a slim 0.4% over his Republican challenger Matt Bevin. Trump went on to win Kentucky by a whopping 25% in 2020. Seeing it done in other deep-red states, can the same be done here in Ohio?
In 2018, candidate Richard Cordray lost his bid for Governor by only 3.7%. when Biden went on to lose the state by 8.03% in 2020. If we nominate the right candidate and develop the right message by focusing on the individuals in Ohio, Democrats can be successful. Ohio is a diverse state with many different communities from the three-C cities (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati), the smaller cities (Toledo, Dayton, Akron, Youngstown), the suburbs, the NorthWest farming communities, and the SouthEast Appalachian communities. Each having their own desires and needs to be successful. If Senator Sherrod Brown and Justice Jennifer Brunner can be successful in the reddest parts of the state, others too can be successful in a once bellwether state that others have written off as a lost cause.