By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
Decisions are made by those who show up. -Aaron Sorkin
Look for low voter turnout to play a significant role in the special August 2, Ohio General Assembly primary.
The combined early voting turnout, including Republicans and Democrats, stood at only 728 of 279,000 potential voters as of Monday morning. In addition, just 1,500 voters have requested absentee ballots.
But don’t look for numbers to improve by primary election day drastically.
Confusion reigns among many voters resulting from Ohio’s controversial redistricting process and federal court rulings which removed the state legislative races from the May 3 regular primary ballot.
Perplexed voters at various Toledo Senior Centers mistakenly assumed that their May votes negated the need to vote again in August. Others presumed an absentee ballot obtained for the May election would make another one unnecessary in August.
Director LaVera R. Scott of the Lucas County Board of Elections said she anticipates a much lower turnout because of the confusion. Yet, she has strategically prepared for a much larger turnout, such as a gubernatorial election.
The result could make for some surprising outcomes in an extremely low turnout primary where anything can, and often does, happen.
Here are the Ohio Statehouse races most affected:
Larson vs. Flanagan: Ohio House District 41
District 41 is a contest between Colin Flanagan from Oregon and Nancy Larson of Sylvania. Flanagan has been described as a young, brash, political newcomer with little experience. On the other hand, Larson has been chiefly an activist but never held an elective office.
Larson is a progressive, big Bernie Sanders supporter who previously ran against Republican Derek Merrin in a tough assignment. After running a particularly active campaign against Merrin, she planned to run for city council in Sylvania but decided she was more interested in issues at the state level. So, Larson is now running in the new 41st district from Sylvania to Oregon.
The Flanagan/Larson winner gets to square off in the November general election against Josh Williams, a black Republican and ardent conservative.
Former President Donald Trump and the National Republican Committee have worked hard to attract black male voters. Josh Williams has an interesting personal story. Should the Republicans continue to fund candidates like Williams, their efforts could get traction, even in Northwest Ohio.
On the other hand, Flanagan has been rapidly picking up labor support, possibly due to Larson’s “poor interpersonal skills and self-righteous attitude,” according to the word on the street. The tendency to rub potential supporters wrong while seeking endorsement can quickly capsize a cruising campaign.
The Outcome in the 41st?
Expect the Unexpected.
Nancy Larson has more name recognition, but in an extremely low turnout race, Flanagan has a legitimate shot at winning. He wouldn’t have to personally turn out very many people to influence the primary election. Yet, the 41st district is considered a 50/50 district, equally among Democrats and Republicans. So, with labor’s backing, it is more likely that Flanagan can defeat Williams in the general election if he gets past Larson.
I predict Flanagan to upset Larsen.
Grim vs. Ortiz: Ohio House District 43
The Michele Grim and Daniel Ortiz primary is a fascinating clash. Both candidates have a wide-open future. Grim will be well funded, and her husband is Ben Krompak, a partner in a national polling firm. The latter provided polling for the recently elected New York City mayor Eric Adams’ winning campaign.
Ortiz is down to earth, very visible in the community, and has previously run for public office. Grim seems omnipresent, having been a constant in local television commercials during her successful recent run for Toledo City Council.
I love everything about Michele Grim’s policies. With her training in public health and expert knowledge of social issues, Grim can have an extensive impact and be more useful in the City of Toledo than in Columbus. Unfortunately, the Republicans have a supermajority in the State Legislature, thus possibly diluting Grim’s potent talents.
The Outcome for the Ohio 43rd?
Anything Can Happen!
Although she is heavily favored, the Ortiz race is not a slam dunk for Grim. Yet, we are just beginning to see increased support for women candidates because of collateral damage from SCOTUS’ decision to strike down Roe vs. Wade. Many believe that the loss of rights could even extend to a potential ban on contraceptives.
So, this contest is a toss-up. However, I’m rooting for Ortiz. On the other hand, Michele Grim would be more valuable to Toledo if she accepted a smaller paycheck to remain on City Council. Toledo is where Grim’s work will yield more meaningful results.
In the end, the big story will be which candidates can mobilize their supporters to show up to cast ballots in the special August 2 primary for Ohio House and Senate seats.
These crucial decisions will indeed be made by those voters who show up!
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD at firstname.lastname@example.org