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March 22, 2024

Ohio Legislative Update

Last Updated: March 22, 2024


This month, we are focused on the primary elections! On March 19th, Ohioans voted in the Primary Election to decide party nominees for several political offices including: the presidency, a U.S. Senate seat, all U.S. House seats, even-numbered State Senate seats, and all State House seats. Statewide voter turnout was 22%. This is down from the last time Ohioans voted in November 2023 when the ballot measure on abortion was driving a 49% voter turnout. This year’s primary saw Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery, and Lucas counties all report substantially lower voter turnout compared to previous presidential election years. With the primaries top of mind, the legislature has laid low recently but is now gearing up to complete the state capital budget process including the One Time Strategic Community Investment Funds before they break again for summer and the General Election.

Election Results

U.S. Senate Race

Bernie Moreno won the Republican nomination with 50% of the vote and will challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown in November. Moreno outperformed State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), who received 33%, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who received 17%, to secure the nomination. This race is one of the most watched in the nation as Ohio continues to trend red.


U.S. House Races

David Taylor secured the nomination for Ohio Congressional District 2 with 25% of the vote as Cong. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2) announced his retirement once his term is completed. Other Republican candidates of note who ran in this race included: State Sen. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro) who ended with 10% of the vote, former State Rep. Ron Hood with 9%, and State Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) with 2%. Taylor is the likely successor to Wenstrup in this district. Taylor calls himself a “political outsider.” He formerly served as a local prosecutor and then took over the family cement business which he runs to this day.

State Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) was elected as the Republican nominee to replace former Cong. Bill Johnson with 50% of the vote over State Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Paris Twp.), who received 41%. Sen. Rulli is the likely successor to Johnson. Rulli has served in the Ohio Senate since 2018. In this large district, encompassing 17 counties down the eastern boarder of the state, Mahoning Valley has been Rulli’s family’s home and place of business for generations. He serves as Director of Operations for the 100-year-old Rulli Bros. Markets owned by his family.

State Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova), who received 53% of the vote, will challenge Cong. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9) after outperforming former State Rep. Craig Riedel, who received 34%. Now in her 21st term, Kaptur has been a member of Congress since 1983 and is the longest-serving woman in congressional history and the dean of Ohio's congressional delegation. Merrin will face a tough challenger, even in a tossup district.

State Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus), who received 64% of the vote, will be the Democrat challenger against Cong. Mike Carey (R-OH-15). Ohio's 15th Congressional District includes a diverse range of rural, urban, and suburban communities. It currently spans from the capital city of Columbus, southeast to the Appalachian region, and west through Ohio farm country. The district includes all or part of six counties, including Franklin, Madison, Clark, Fayette, Miami, and Shelby. Given the makeup of the district, we expect Carey to hold his seat.


State Senate Races

Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin) will challenge Republican Besa Sharrah for Sen. Stephanie Kunze’s (R-Hilliard) seat. Sharrah is first-generation American who grew up in post-communist Albania and is an engineer by trade. This district is toss up seat and one Democrats have their eye on to flip.

Sen. Sandra O’Brien (R-Ashtabula) was re-elected as the Republican nominee for Senate District 32 after being challenged by Rep. Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta). She will face a general opponent but as her district has leaned strongly red, she will likely return for her second term in 2025.

Former Rep. Kyle Koehler secured the Republican nomination to replace current term-limited Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London).  Koehler served in the Ohio House representing most of Clark County from January 2015 until term-limited in December of 2022.


State House Races

Christine Cockley won the Democratic nomination against six challengers to replace current Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus). Cockley lives in the Hilltop neighborhood of Columbus and currently works at the YWCA of Columbus.

Meredith Lawson-Rowe won the Democratic primary for Rep. Richard Brown’s (D-Canal Winchester) seat. Lawson-Rowe is currently City Council President in Reynoldsburg and has been a professional executive assistant for more than 20 years.

Brian Garvine won the Republican nomination for House District 10 following Rep. David Dobos (R-Columbus) dropping out. Mark Sigrist won a narrow 24 vote victory over Sarah Pomeroy for the Democratic Party nomination, according to final unofficial results. Provisional and other late-counted ballots may change the margin or possible result.

Representatives who lost their primaries included: Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville), Rep. Gail Pavliga (R-Atwater), Rep. Jon Cross (R-Findlay), and Rep. Elliot Forhan (D-South Euclid).


Races to Watch

Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) will challenge Democrat Crystal Lett for the House District 11 seat. Sen. Kunze narrowly beat Lett in 2020 for her current Senate seat. Lett worked with children who suffered from severe and symptomatic mental illness for several years before her son was born with a complex genetic disorder. While Lett manages and advocates for his care full time, she also manages a psychological practice. Kunze served two terms in the Ohio House before becoming a State Senator in 2016. This will likely be the most competitive race in the state as Franklin County suburbs continue to trend more blue.

Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland) will challenge Democrat Katie O’Neill in what will likely be a very close race. O’Neill is an environmental lawyer and activist. District 18 encompasses 42 communities, including all within Lake County, as well as some Cuyahoga County including Chagrin Falls, Solon, and Pepper Pike, among others. This is Cirino’s first term in the Ohio Senate and he serves as Vice Chair of the powerful Finance Committee.

Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) will challenge Democrat Sue Durichko for Sen. Matt Dolan’s (R-Chagrin Falls) current seat in what will likely be a very close race. Durichko is an at-large Councilwoman for the City of Parma Heights and is also a regional nurse.

Kevin Couglin, a former State Senator from 2001-2010 and State Representative from 1997-2000, will be the Republican challenger against Cong. Emilia Sykes (D-OH-13) in a district Republicans believe they can flip.


G2G attended Impact Ohio’s post primary event on the Thursday after the election. Updates from leadership included House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill), Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), and House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington).

Speaker Stephens shared politically House Republicans are focused on retaining and expanding the majority. He expressed frustration with term limits stating while new members and perspectives are important it takes time to develop relationships and learn the ropes making it hard to govern correctly without institutional knowledge. At the Statehouse, Stephens and his members are focused on passing the Capital Budget and addressing housing shortages.

Leader Antonio shared her caucus’ priorities for the rest of General Assembly are affordable housing, job creation and growth, affordable and accessible childcare, and education. They are also focused on quickly passing a Capital Budget to get these much needed funds into the community. Politically, the Senate Democrats hope to reduce their super minority.

Leader Russo shared her excitement for the new members that will likely join the caucus and that there are 7 potential flip opportunities for House Democrats in the general election. Russo expressed we need to restore balance in our legislature and cannot do that with the super majorities in both chambers. Similar to Leader Antonio, her priorities include affordable housing, equal pay for women, affordable and accessible childcare, and education. There is a lot of work to do on these big issues but with the division in the House it has become difficult to get anything done.