Races to Watch: Ohio Governor

In the run-up to this year’s midterm elections, you’re probably following at least a few races, likely ones that are either happening near you or garnering nationwide coverage. With hundreds of federal elections occurring on one day, though, it’s obviously difficult to keep track of them all. The purpose of this column is to shed light on different contests by answering three questions: Who’s running?; What are the polls saying?; Why is it interesting?

Up first: Ohio governor!

Who’s Running?

Incumbent governor John Kasich (R) is term-limited.

The Democrat is Richard Cordray, who has previously served as Director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Ohio Attorney General, Ohio Treasurer, and in the Ohio House of Representatives. In the May primaries, Cordray clinched the Democratic nomination with 62% of the vote, notably defeating former Cleveland mayor, US Representative, and Ohio hero (?) Dennis Kucinich.

The Republican is Mike DeWine, the state’s current Attorney General. DeWine has a long political career, having also served as Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and in both chambers of Congress. DeWine won his party’s nomination for governor with 59% of the vote.

Both candidates are running on similar platforms that involve addressing the opioid epidemic, reducing the cost of healthcare, and supporting early childhood education. In most regards, they are relatively scandal-free politicians who side with their own parties: DeWine has been endorsed by Trump, and Cordray by Obama.

During the first gubernatorial debate, DeWine and Cordray launched a flurry of personal attacks against each other.

What Are the Polls Saying?

The polls have been all over the place, and recent surveys haven’t provided many new details. Statistically speaking, this race is practically a tie.

Race Close

Why Is It Interesting?

Having voted for the president in every election since 1960, Ohio has long been considered a bellwether state — although that reputation has wavered as of late, understanding its political climate could provide clues about the current national attitude. That rings especially true this year, because Ohio’s other high-profile statewide race appears to be much less exciting.

But this isn’t the first time Cordray and DeWine faced off in an election: the 2010 race for Ohio Attorney General saw DeWine win by just under 50,000 votes, or 1.2%. In a way, this November’s contest can be considered a rematch.

Finally, the candidates themselves have made the race unique. Back in 1987, Cordray won five consecutive games of Jeopardy! These “nerdy bona fides” have made him a memorable personality on the campaign trail. Likewise, despite his last name, DeWine doesn’t drink alcohol, instead opting for the annual ice cream social he throws with his family.

Specifically, I will be watching for the percent of the “Trump vote” that DeWine wins over, as he’s campaigned in a Trumpian lane, despite the president’s support steadily declining in the state.

In all, the race for governor of Ohio is both close and amusing. I definitely recommend adding it to your list of races to watch.

If you have any races you’d like me to profile, reach out on my Contact Page.

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