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Ohio 2018

What are the choices facing Ohio in the 2018 electoral season?

Part 1: Put electoral change on your list of things to do

  Ohio Election 2018 looks to be a contentious, high stakes affair. With over a year to go before voting too many would-be advocates are still in Amnesialand. RHINO's member survey got 3 responses. Starting now means having an impact on the outcomes; waiting makes you a spectator.

   What's at stake in 2018?

  • Statewide elected officials. All the statewide officials are open seats. Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Ohio State Treasurer, and Ohio State Auditor are all up for grabs.

  • Ohio House of Representatives. All 99 members of the Ohio House are up for reelection, 21 are open seats due to term limits or incumbents seeking other offices.

  • The Ohio Senate will have elections in 17 of the 33 districts. Ten of these districts have open seats because of term limits.

  • Ohio Supreme Court has two open seats up for election.

  • Statewide issues. Still early days, but here are two issues that may be in the works for November, 2018: Minimum wage, Redistricting reform,

In addition to these state offices and issues, all 16 Congressional are up for re-election and one of Ohio's two US Senate seats is on tap. More here.

   What can housing advocates in nonprofits do to influence the outcomes?

  1. Voter Registration, Education, and Mobilization (VREM) is easy and important

    1. Register new members or participants at intake or enrollment.

    2. Register existing members or participants by comparing voter registration rolls with your membership lists to identify members who aren't currently registered.

    3. Educate your registered members with periodic email or print updates that highlight bread-and-butter issues.

    4. Educate registered members by holding periodic outings to public hearings, council meetings, candidate night events. "Immersion" helps your members learn the language.

    5. Mobilize your registered members to vote by encouraging absentee and early balloting and providing transportation on election day.

    6. Don't forget to document your successes so you get some 'street cred' with local elected officials.

  2. Publicize your issues. Use events (eg. healthy homes week), research (eg. evictions in your county), and opinion articles (eg. "lets get the lead out") to make members, participants, and "the public" familiar with your concerns.

  3. Educate your community with candidate forums, debates, guest speakers, and issue education sessions. Toledo's recent Mayoral debate is an example. Team up with other tenant-serving organizations or established civic engagement groups like League of Women Voters.

   Members and volunteers can work outside the boundaries of nonprofit organizations. While your organization can't be "electoral," organizational members and volunteers can become engaged if they are educated. Here are some examples of how members and volunteers can carry your messages.

  • Volunteer at the polls. Learning the voting system is a good way to motivate others to participate.

  • Volunteer for a candidate. Doorknocking, lit drops, and participating in candidate events builds commitment to civic engagement.

  • Attend political events and raise issues in the Q&A. A well placed question could be the topic covered by the media the next day.

   Planning now for 2018 has two benefits. One is that organizations can integrate electoral efforts seamlessly into normal operations. The other is that organizations can decide which races and issues deserve attention. Waiting til Halloween to say "don't forget to vote" doesn't have much impact. Remember that civic engagement is a marathon, not a sprint. Part 2: Ohio 2018-Governor's race and taking the temperature of the electorate
Ohio's five statewide offices are up for grabs in 2018. Three statewide offices, (Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State) present opportunities for housing and rental rights advocates to raise issues. Today's rhino!UP focuses on the Governor's race. In the race for Ohio's next governor, both parties are engaged in spirited debates among primary contenders. Most Republican contenders seem to be trying to run to the right of Governor John Kasich. This contrast is bound to increase as Kasich moves to position himself for a 2020 challenge to President Trump. Democratic gubernatorial candidates seem more ideologically similar and may be trying to distinguish themselves on personal qualities rather than issues. The hidden gorilla in the Democratic primary is former state Attorney General Richard Cordray. Cordray is currently the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but his term at CFPB ends in July of 2018. While Cordray's mum on his political ambitions, the enigmatic entrance of Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill is probably related to Cordray's reticence to make his plans known until his term is up. As the primary candidates make the rounds of public forums, all the questions have come from journalists. Issues like Medicaid expansion, taxes, and redistricting have dominated the coverage. That could change if advocacy organizations join the discussion now. Almost any issue of concern could be the basis for a good question to raise at a candidate appearance. What they say in response to a question may be less important than what they hear. Most candidates for Governor have never had a question about eviction reform, lead poisoning or LGBT housing rights. Showing up at events with some wiggle proof questions could help get your issue on the candidate's agenda. And...if candidates hear the same topic being raised by citizens all over the state, your issue could become their issue. Take lead poisoning as an example. Here's the question. "Candidate X, the state of Ohio spends zero dollars of General Revenue funds on lead enforcement or abatement. What will you do as Governor to create a pool of funds to prevent children from being poisoned by their homes?" Then--make note of the answers and make sure that your members, local reporters, and social media followers hear about the question and the candidate's answers...even if the answer is only "I'll get back to you on that." 2018 is bound to be a change election. For one thing, there are no incumbents running for re-election to statewide offices. Also, last week's municipal elections suggest some "turbulence" among voters. It's true that the Cleveland and Cincinnati mayoral elections returned incumbents, but both incumbents had tough primaries. In Toledo and Youngstown, there will be new faces in the Mayor's office. Nationally, Governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey showed higher than normal turnout among Democrats. Perhaps the "Resistance" movement flowing from this year's Women's March on Washington accounts for more people expressing an opinion. However, In Ohio, turnout was low even for a non Presidential year. Beyond the the Virginia and New Jersey governorships, there was significant grassroots engagement with new candidates and local initiatives.
     Even a small organization can ask a big question. A bunch of small organizations around the state asking similar questions can amplify their impact. At this stage, winning is less important than raising the issue and building relationships.  
  • Medicaid expansion by voters in Maine
  • LGBT newcomers win seats
  • A socialist in Virginia?
Posted November 12, 2017

Coming soon

Part 3: Redistricting-in the court, on the ballot or in the General Assembly

Part 4: Your state rep and state senator-term limits, local campaigns, key issues for tenant and community organizations

 Notes & Links