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Two Democratic judges face off in primary for one of three Ohio Supreme Court seats this fall

Gavel outside the Ohio Supreme Court
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Gavel outside the Ohio Supreme Court

Republicans make up the majority of justices on the Ohio Supreme Court. But this year, the composition of that court could change. Two of three Democratic justices now serving on the court are up for re-election. And there’s another seat up for grabs too.

The Ohio Supreme Court could decide challenges related to the state’s new constitutional amendment protecting reproductive rights. And there are still questions about redistricting that could end up in before the court. So who sits on the bench will make a difference.

Two Democrats vying for a Republican’s seat as he’s running for a different one

Republican Justice Joe Deters was appointed earlier this year to serve out the remainder of Justice Sharon Kennedy’s term after she was elected chief justice in 2022. He’s decided to run for a full six-year term, and is challenging incumbent Democratic Justice Melody Stewart.

That leaves the seat Deters now occupies open. Two Democrats are vying for it on Tuesday’s ballot. Judge Lisa Forbes from Ohio’s Eighth District Court of Appeals is running for the spot. So is Judge Terri Jamison with the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals. Jamison ran for a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court last year but lost. Forbes has been endorsed by the Ohio Democratic Party.

Republican Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Dan Hawkins will run against either Forbes or Jamison in the fall. He’s unopposed on the primary ballot.

Two of three Democratic justices are up for re-election

Justice Melody Stewart, also a Democrat, is up for re-election. Stewart is unopposed in this primary.

Incumbent Democratic Justice Michael P. Donnelly, who’s been on the court since 2019, is also unopposed on Tuesday’s primary ballot. This fall he’s being challenged by Republican Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas General Division Judge Megan Shanahan.

Candidates have party labels next to their names - at least for now

Since 2022, candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court or appellate courts have partisan labels next to their names. Trial and municipal court races in Ohio remain non-partisan. But Democratic Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner, who lost the 2022 race for chief justice to Kennedy but remains on the court, is suing over the new law in federal court. If Brunner does not win between now and November, the six candidates running for the Ohio Supreme Court in the fall will have their party affiliation next to their names.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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