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Government & Politics

Ohio Senate Approves Bill to List Party Affiliations in Some Judicial Races

The bench of the Ohio Supreme Court
Dan Konik
Ohio Supreme Court
Candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court and court of appeals will need to disclose their political party affiliations, a requirement of a bill the Ohio Senate has passed. The Ohio House of Representatives is next to consider the bill.

A bill to list party affiliations of candidates for court of appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court on the November ballot has passed the state Senate on a party line vote.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said he understands the concerns of Democrats who opposed the bill, which doesn’t apply to county or municipal judge races but to the court of appeals and the Supreme Court.

Democrats have scored some big wins in Ohio Supreme Court races in the last two cycles.

In 2018, then-Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Donnelly beat Fifth District Court of Appeals Judge Craig Baldwin and then-Eighth District Court of Appeals Judge Melody Stewart defeated Justice Mary DeGenero, who'd been appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court in early 2018. Republicans won big in nearly all other races, including governor.

In 2020, then-Tenth District Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Brunner defeated incumbent Justice Judi French. Republicans won nearly all other races on the ballot, on the coattails of Donald Trump, who won Ohio but lost to President Joe Biden. The court now has a 4-3 balance for the first time since 1994.

“Typically voters know more about their local judges than they do about Supreme Court candidates and court of appeals candidates, who have a more serious restriction in terms of the money they can raise to promote their candidacy,” Huffman said.

But he said he’s open to expanding the idea.

Ohio is the only state where judicial candidates run in partisan primaries but are elected in non-partisan general elections.

The bill moves on to the House.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.