Looking Ahead to November, Choices Limited for Ohio Voters

On May 6, Ohio held statewide primary elections. The sixth congressional district hosted primaries for three parties: the Republican, Democratic, and Green parties. Only the Democrats had a contested primary — GOP incumbent Rep. Bill Johnson and Green Party candidate Dennis Lambert ran unopposed.

Democratic voters ended up selecting Jennifer Garrison over Greg Howard.

In Ohio, which has a mixed primary system, independent voters can vote in primaries only if they affiliate with a recognized party. Independent candidates cannot appear on a primary ballot without forming a party that is approved and recognized by the state. They can access the general election ballot, but only by filing a petition that was due May 5.

Ohio currently recognizes the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, Constitution, and Socialist parties.

In Ohio, independent voters can vote in primaries only if they affiliate with a recognized party.
Joshua Alvarez, IVN contributor
Bill Johnson has served in Congress since 2010. The seat was held by Democrats since 2000, but the “Republican wave” of 2010 and subsequent redistricting controlled by Republicans in Ohio’s state legislature has turned the sixth district into a Republican-leaning district.

The latest Cook Partisan Voting Index report gives the GOP an 8-point advantage in OH-6. The Rothenberg Political Report similarly rates the district as “Republican favored.”

Govtrack, which places U.S. lawmakers’ votes on an ideological map, rates Johnson as a “far-right” Republican. He voted against the bill that ultimately ended the shutdown and has repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Johnson is in favor of gun rights and was endorsed by the NRA in 2012. Filling out his conservative credentials, he is a part of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus that traditionally restricts membership to the conservative wing of the GOP.

Many of the freshman GOP congressmen elected in 2010 flocked to RSC meetings, which in turn attracted staffers from Heritage Action, a political activist wing working out of the Heritage Foundation that was started by former South Carolina Senator and current Heritage President Jim DeMint.

Heritage Action has become notorious on the Hill for pressuring GOP congressmen to vote in a strictly conservative manner. The RSC actually barred Heritage Action members from attending its meetings after a dispute over the Farm Bill.

Interestingly, Johnson is also listed as a member of the Main Street Partnership, which operates a PAC that funds moderate Republican congressional candidates against tea party primary challengers. Its leader, former Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette, is a vocal opponent of the tea party and has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to moderate GOP candidates across the country, including Ohio.

Johnson has received $8,000 from the PAC.

Democratic candidate Jennifer Garrison is a former member of the Ohio House of Representatives. This is her first time running for Congress. Green candidate Dennis Lambert, an Army veteran who currently works to help veterans find employment and receive benefits, is also running for Congress for the first time.

For previous reporting on Ohio’s districts, check out Ryan Schuette’s March article, “In Ohio, a Tale of Two Republican Parties in House Elections.”

Photo Credit: AP