The 2024 election is upon us. Early voting for the March 19 primary election starts on February 22. Of course, it wouldn’t be an election without a bit of controversy. One controversy has arisen from the primary for the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio’s Second District. The Second is a geographically huge district, stretching from Clermont County in the west to Meigs County in the east and from Lawrence County in the south to Pickaway County in the north. All of 15 counties are in the district.
In my last piece, I said there were two Democratic candidates seeking our nomination to run for Congress in the Second District. While that was true when it was written, the situation has changed. On January 27, 2024, the Ohio Democratic Party Executive Committee endorsed Samantha Meadows in that race. Within days, her primary opponent Joe Wessels announced he was dropping out of the race. Mr. Wessels also announced that he is supporting a Republican for Congress in the Second District.
Mr. Wessels’s actions highlight an idea which is currently floating around. The idea is that even people who are not Republican primary voters should vote in this year’s Republican primary for a particular congressional candidate from Ohio’s Second District. The candidate is former Cincinnati City Council member Phil Heimlich. A bit of background is necessary to understand this theory. As I mentioned, the Second Congressional District is geographically huge. It is also a very Republican district, and the theory assumes that whoever wins the Republican primary will win the general election. The incumbent Republican Congressman, Brad Wenstrup, is not running for re-election, and 11 people are running in the primary for this seat. The purported rationale behind voting for Heimlich is that he is the only one of the 11 who is openly anti-trump. The thinking is that the pro-trump vote will be spread over the other 10 candidates and that, if Heimlich gets help from people who don’t usually vote in the Republican primary, he could win the plurality of votes needed to be the nominee. In other words, according to that theory, since whoever wins the Republican primary will be our next representative in Congress, Heimlich is the least bad choice.
One problem with this thinking is that Heimlich is still a bad choice. It is true that, like Liz Cheney, Heimlich publicly recognizes the grave threat trump poses to American democracy. It is also true that, also like Liz Cheney, Heimlich is otherwise very conservative. To give just one example, the website Catholicspeakers.com, while noting that Heimlich is not Catholic, touts “his pro-life message” which, it says, “continues to inspire many within the . . . fight-for-life as a whole.” I was among the majority of Ohio voters who voted for the Reproductive Freedom Amendment last November. I strongly support a woman’s right to choose. I don’t want to vote anyone “pro-life” into a Congress who would support a nationwide abortion ban. Nor do I want to vote for someone who believes in the economic policies which have concentrated so much of our nation’s wealth in the hands of so few people.
The better course is to vote for and support a candidate whose values align with mine. There is such a candidate: Democrat Samantha Meadows. Rather than assume the Republican will win and therefore support the least bad Republican, we should vote for and work hard to elect a good candidate for a change.
There are other reasons why Democrats should not cross over in the March primary. Remember that you either vote in the Democratic primary or the Republican primary. Ohio law does not allow you to vote in the Republican primary for one office but in the Democratic primary for others. In Clermont County, we have a Democratic write-in candidate for Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas: Elizabeth Jones. For Ms. Jones to appear on the general election ballot in November, she must get more than a certain number of votes in the primary election. On the other hand, if votes for Ms. Jones do not exceed that threshold, the Republican candidate for Clerk will be unopposed in November. We need every Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary and write-in Elizabeth Jones for Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas.
There are two other contested Democratic primary races. One is for Ohio Supreme Court Justice. If we want the will of the voters last November to be respected, we must have a Democratic majority of the Justices on the Ohio Supreme Court. Two of the three Democratic incumbents, Justice Melody Stewart and Justice Michael Donnelly, are up for re-election and are unopposed in the primary. However, we must also win the third Supreme Court seat up for election in November. This is the seat for which we have a contested primary between Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals Judge Lisa Forbes and Franklin County Court of Appeals Judge Terri Jamison. The Ohio Democratic Party has endorsed Judge Forbes. I had the privilege of speaking with her for some time in Columbus last month. I mean no offense to Judge Jamison when I say that I think Judge Forbes will give us the best chance to obtain a state supreme court with a 4-3 Democratic majority.
The other contested primary race is for our state senator. The two candidates in our primary to challenge the Republican incumbent are Mark Grauwelman and Shane Marcum. ODP and CCDP have not made an endorsement in this race. Of course, it is very important to break the Republican super majority in the state senate. I urge you to find out as much as you can about both candidates and vote for the one whom you think gives us the best chance to flip this seat in November.
As you can see, there are several important reasons to vote in the Democratic primary election this year. Additionally, if you choose to take a Republican primary ballot, your official voter registration becomes Republican. That will be a problem if you hold or wish to hold a Democratic Party office, such as Central Committee member. Perhaps most important, do you really want to be publicly identified as a member of today’s Republican Party? I certainly do not.