The repeal of SB-5 surprised many entrenched Republicans. The repeal of SB-5 gives stark evidence that our Republican governor, along with the Republican Senate and Republican House, in advancing a right wing agenda, has gone beyond what most Ohio voters will support.
The question is: Will this rejection of Republican radicalism continue to resonate in November’s elections?
Voters generally don’t like one party rule, so, in contests for the State Assembly, voters who habitually vote Republican may be more open minded than ever, this year, to voting Democratic.
With their easy domination in gerrymandered districts, Republicans have become complacent. Rather than finding candidates who might have some appeal to moderates or Independents, Republicans have advanced the most zealous members of their group, those most out the mainstream, to be their candidates. These zealous Assembly members hold a POV that offend even some Eisenhower / Taft Republicans.
Ohio House District 41, where I live, provides a telling example. Republicans traditionally clobber their Democratic rivals in this district (previous to reapportionment, OHD-37), usually by 65% to 35%. But this past election, 53% of voters in OHD-41 rejected SB-5.
Last year, when the Republican representative for this district, Peggy Lehner, was promoted to the Ohio Senate, the small clique running the local Republican Party got to choose who they wanted to fill the empty seat. And, they chose Oakwood attorney, Jim Butler.
Butler, on a personal level, seems a quality person. He is a Navy Academy graduate and a former Navy Aviator. But his views are to the far right and, I believe, outside of the mainstream of voters in OHD-41. Butler supported and defended SB-5, as well as every other legislation dreamed up by the most far out Republicans. Butler is on the House Education Committee and, in committee, voted for an amazing law, HB136, that would subtract money from public schools and fund vouchers for religious private schools. (HB136 has not yet been brought to the Assembly.)
To challenge Butler, OHD-41 Democrats have a great candidate, Caroline Gentry, and, it looks like the stars have aligned — Kasich’s and Butler’s radicalism, repeal of SB-5, a great Democratic candidate — so that, miracles of miracles, OHD-41 this election has a good shot of sending a Democrat to the Ohio House.
Gentry is 41 years old, a mother of two, a graduate of Yale Law School.
I write about her here: Moderate Oakwood Democrat Seeks To Replace Radical Republican Jim Butler To Represent OHD-41
An analysis of the voter base in OHD-41 shows opportunities for the Democrats. Yes, registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats almost by 2:1. But, still, here are some other facts:
- There are over 7000 Democrats in OHD-41. And Kasich and the radical actions of the 129th Assembly may just provide the fire needed to propel a lot of these Democrats into grass roots activism.
- There are over 11,000 voters age 18-30 and 93% of these voters are unaffiliated. It is this age group that is most likely to vote Democratic and so the huge size of this group is an advantage for a qualified Democratic candidate.
- 56% of registered OHD-41 voters are women. A qualified Democrat who is a woman has an advantage with this huge block.
- 72% of registered OHD-41 voters are unaffiliated. Yes, the biggest block of these voters habitually choose Republican candidates, but their unaffiliated status means they should be open to considering a qualified Democrat.