Ohio's March primary ballot is set, with the presidential and U.S. Senate races leading the way
The ballot for the March primary is set, with the filing deadline for candidates closing on Wednesday, Dec. 20.
Six Republicans and three Democrats filed for their party's presidential primaries:
- Chris Christie (R)
- Ron DeSantis (R)
- Nikki Haley (R)
- Vivek Ramaswamy (R)
- Donald Trump (R)
- Ryan Binkley (R)
- Joe Biden (D)
- Dean Phillips (D)
- Marianne Williamson (D)
Former Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has said he’ll run as an independent.
For U.S. Senate, these candidates filed:
- Matt Dolan (R)
- Frank LaRose (R)
- Bernie Moreno (R)
- Doug Stuart (R)
- Sherrod Brown (D)
Three Republicans and four Democrats have filed for three Ohio Supreme Court seats:
- Joseph Deters (R)
- Dan Hawkins (R)
- Megan Shanahan (R)
- Michael Donnelly (D)
- Lisa Forbes (D)
- Terri Jamison (D)
- Melody Stewart (D)
Deters, Donnelly and Stewart are incumbents. Deters was appointed in January to fill out the rest of Justice Sharon Kennedy's term after she was elected chief justice. But Deters is running for the seat occupied by Melody Stewart, which would allow him a full six-year term. Jamison, a judge in the 10th District Court of Appeals, ran unsuccessfully last year. Currently the Ohio Supreme Court has four Republicans and three Democrats.
Half the state Senate and all Ohio House members are up next year. Of the 22 Republicans who supported Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) for speaker over Derek Merrin (R-Napoleon) and were censured by the state party for that, 10 of them have primary challengers. Stephens is running unopposed in the primary, while Merrin - who is term-limited - is running for Congress in the 9th district.
In the Republican primary Merrin will face former state lawmaker Craig Riedel, who is under fire for some anti-Trump comments, and J.R. Majewski, a pro-Trump candidate endorsed by some prominent Republicans. Majewski lost last year's race to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), after reports lost last year after reports that he had misrepresented his military record. Kaptur is the longest serving woman in Congressional history.
On the eve of the deadline, former president Trump endorsed businessman Bernie Moreno in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, leaving behind Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls). That potentially has a huge impact on that race.
“I think it is Moreno's to lose. Now it's just a question of his capacity to just run a standard campaign," said David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati. He says the Trump endorsement allows Moreno to stand out among the three conservatives, especially compared to LaRose, who was actively seeking the Trump ok.
“What can you, what can you put forward as a mark to say you are the actual Trump candidate? Well, there's only one thing and that's the Trump endorsement, and now Moreno has it," Niven said.
There were seven candidates in the May 2022 primary when Trump endorsed J.D. Vance. Vance had been running third in most polls before the endorsement, which vaulted him to the lead. He ended up winning the primary with just over 32%, and beat Democrat Tim Ryan by 6 points in the fall.
In this year's race, Niven said, “It's a smaller field. And so the Trump endorsement stands out a little bit more, when you were talking about just three candidates, two of whom running essentially on Team Trump.”
The Ohio Republican Party was the first in the country to endorse Trump for president, but did not endorse any candidates in the U.S. Senate race.
"I could not be more grateful or humbled to have the complete and total endorsement of President Donald Trump at this vital moment in the campaign, "Moreno wrote in a statement. "He is the leader America needs most, and job one in 2024 is returning him to the White House. His support makes clear that there is only one Pro-Trump, America First candidate in this race. It's time for Ohio Republicans to unite around our campaign so we can end Sherrod Brown's 50-year political career in the fall. With a Republican Senate and President Trump back in the White House, we will Make America Great Again!"
There’s been no response from the LaRose campaign to the Trump endorsement. LaRose had been publicly angling for that, as evidenced by statements and photos on social media, and has noted he was endorsed by Trump in his re-election as secretary of state last year.
Dolan said in a written statement: "This is Ohio’s Senate seat. I know who I’m fighting for. I know what I’m fighting for. To defeat Sherrod Brown, we must have the strongest nominee possible. My focus is on advancing policies that will strengthen our state and nation while running a campaign worthy of the people I endeavor to serve."