Making Larry a Household Name: Beating Back GOP Power in Ohio
Coming into this cycle, many political observers had written off Ohio. After Hillary’s nine-point loss in 2016 and mediocre statewide results in 2018, other state legislative groups have chosen to avoid the Buckeye State.
At EveryDistrict, we were excited to support six successful Ohio State House candidates in 2018. We are bullish on the opportunity to make gains this year in both chambers. Our strategy in Ohio focuses on breaking the GOP supermajority in both chambers of the legislature. To do so, Democrats will have to flip three districts in the State Senate and two seats in the State House. This goal has seemed within reach, with Biden’s close polling in Ohio meaning more than enough seats were in play.
An unprecedented corruption scandal could put even more districts in play. The FBI’s arrest of now-former State House Speaker Larry Householder over an alleged $61 million racketeering scheme orchestrated to trade illegal campaign contributions for the $1 billion bailouts to FirstEnergy, one of the state’s major utilities, could expand the map.
The taint of corruption has not only permeated through the House Republican Caucus, but over $1 million in campaign cash is also liable to be frozen. While Democrats have struggled to raise as much in funds as Republicans, the freeze of Householder’s assets would severely handicap Republicans’ fundraising abilities, putting them on the defensive, and give Democrats a significant advantage. We expect this advantage to be most prominent in several seats where Republican candidates are close to Householder—from members of his leadership team to freshmen Representatives appointed by the former Speaker to fill legislative vacancies.
A Strong Existing Slate of Candidates
Through our work with nearly 200 candidates across the country, we can definitively say that the key factor in whether candidates can win in challenging districts – other than having the right resources they need – is whether they have strong, meaningful connections to their communities. We’re proud this year to support five House challengers, in addition to our six incumbents from 2018, and three Senate candidates. These candidates are existing leaders in their community poised to begin a shift in the balance of the power in Ohio.
Where is the Householder Effect Greatest?
The web of Republican State House members closest to Householder could create more substantial gains. Modeling shared with EveryDistrict based on the latest polling, past performance, trends, and year-to-year swings shows Democrats were already competitive in many of these districts before accounting for recent revelations of scandal. We see this happening not just in districts we have endorsed in and flagged for our watch list, but also in districts we have considered safe for Republicans but where Democrats are running spirited races. At least four additional seats could become viable pickup opportunities for Democrats. With the right resources, Democrats could make big changes in the Buckeye State.
Table. Competitive House Districts Affected by Householder Scandal
|District||Model Run (without scandal)||GOP Raise||GOP COH||DEM Raise||DEM COH||COH Diff|
How You Can Help
EveryDistrict’s slate of state legislative candidates is poised to dismantle the GOP supermajority in Columbus and start charting a new path forward for Ohio. They need the direct-to-candidate resources to do so. You can support all of our Ohio candidates by donating here.
EveryDistrict supports state legislative candidates across the country, from Ohio to Arizona and Wisconsin, and six more states in between. Visit www.EveryDistrict.us to learn more.