Voters in Sandusky and Seneca counties will decide an election that is unusual if not unique in Ohio history: A Statehouse race with no names on the ballot.
The contest for the Republican party nomination for the 88th Ohio House District seat now held by state Rep. Rex Damschroder (R., Fremont) is just one of many partisan primary races, school levies, and local questions — and at least one special election for Toledo City Council — to be decided on May 6.
Leading the ballot will be primary contests for statewide office and one statewide question, to allow issuance of bonds for capital improvements.
Early voting starts Tuesday. In Lucas County, votes may be cast at 1946 N. 13th St., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through May 2; from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on April 7, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 3.
Interest in the 88th District heated up quickly after Mr. Damschroder made a filing mistake that kept him off the ballot. He is asking voters to write-in the name of his wife, Rhonda. If she wins, she would resign from the ballot after the primary, allowing him to be appointed in her place for the November election.
Calling it the “Help me, Rhonda” strategy, Mr. Damschroder said he’s telling voters it’s the only legal way for him to win re-election.
“The hard-core Republicans I’ve been talking to pretty well understand the situation. That more marginal person out there, that hasn’t had a chance to study the issue, may feel that something’s not truthful,” Mr. Damschroder said. “I’m trying to get it across this is the only legal solution. If I can’t get that message out, I’ll probably get beat.”
He said it wasn’t fair that a mistake kept him off the ballot.
One opponent says the scheme is a little too cute.
Jefferson Thomas, the campaign manager for Tiffin businessman Bill Reineke, who filed as a write-in opponent to Mrs. Damschroder, said Mr. Damschroder’s effort to get on the November ballot is the kind of thing that fuels voter distrust.
“People hear about this kind of behavior coming out of Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Thomas said.
If Mrs. Damschroder wins and steps down, he said, the appointment to replace her on the ballot should go to the next highest vote-getter, not Mr. Damschroder.
Also seeking the GOP nomination as a write-in is Richard Geyer of Ballville Township.
Waiting for the Republicans’ dust to settle is Bill Young, a retired teacher, who is a write-in candidate for the Democratic nomination.
The Sandusky County Board of Elections concluded at a protest hearing that Mrs. Damschroder's “place-holder” candidacy is legal.
Mr. Damschroder said he’s been told this could be the first Ohio House of Representatives election for which no names appeared on the primary ballot.
In House District 47, covering western Lucas County and most of Fulton County, incumbent state Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) has picked up a primary opponent because of her support for Gov. John Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid availability in Ohio.
Opponent Scott Allegrini of Sylvania, a Walmart manager, said expanding Medicaid coverage expands the role of government, which is the opposite of what Republicans should do.
“To expand government dependence for tens of thousands more people is, I think the wrong thing to do,” Mr. Allegrini said. “It gives implementation of Obamacare in Ohio.”
Ms. Sears, who is seeking her fourth and last allowable consecutive two-year term under Ohio’s term-limits law, said Medicaid expansion is good for Ohio for fiscal reasons, because it combines health programs for the poor that have been in their own “silos,” and because it contributes to the citizenry’s better health.
“If we want economic development and jobs in Ohio, we have to have people ready for those jobs — physically, mentally, and educationally,” Ms. Sears said.
Mr. Allegrini is being supported by state and local Tea Party groups, while Ms. Sears has the support of the Ohio House Republican Caucus.
She also is backed by the Lucas County Republican Party, according to party Chairman Jon Stainbrook.
No Democrat filed in the 47th House District, so the primary winner will be unopposed in the general election.
Two Republicans are competing for the right to challenge U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) in the 9th Congressional District, which stretches from Toledo to Cleveland.
Robert Horrocks of Lakewood, a salesman for an industrial bearings firm, is calling for trade and tax policies to force foreign and American firms to employ American workers.
Richard May of Cleveland, a retired warehouse manager, has the backing of Tea Party organizations, as well as the Cuyahoga County Republican Party endorsement.
Voters in Toledo Council District 2 — most of South Toledo — will elect a councilman to replace D. Michael Collins, who was elected mayor in November.
Facing off are the endorsed Democrat, Matt Cherry, a union business agent who holds the seat by appointment; Marcia Helman, an independent who owns an ice cream restaurant; Robert Vasquez, a Democratic Toledo school board member, and Republican Joseph Celusta, a former senior business manager.
In a throwback to bygone elections, voters in District 2 will cast paper ballots only because the city’s filing deadline of Thursday didn’t leave enough time to load the race onto voting machines.
At the Lucas County level, incumbent Democratic Commissioner Carol Contrada of Sylvania Township has an opponent for the nomination, Spencer Township Trustee Michael Hood.
Vying for the Republican nomination are Kevin Haddad, a former Sylvania Township trustee, and Ben Roberts, a former director of the Lucas County Board of Elections.
There are primary contests to succeed Judge Fred McDonald on Lucas County Common Pleas Court and Domestic Relations Court Judge Norm Zemmelman, both of whom are barred by age from seeking re-election.
Democrats seeking the Common Pleas nomination are Richard Roberts, Laura Restivo, and Ian English. Mark Davis is the sole Republican candidate.
Running for the Domestic Relations judge nominations are Republicans Joseph Clarke and Lisa McGowan and Democrats John Coble and Jay Feldstein.
Republican voters in Wood County will decide whether to let Commissioner Doris Herringshaw have a second try at winning a commissioner seat. Ms. Herringshaw is opposed by fellow Republicans Kristi Kennelly and Jim Matuszak.
Democrat Andrew Newlove has no rival for his party’s nomination to the November ballot.
Ms. Herringshaw of Liberty Township, a retired county extension agent, ran unsuccessfully in 2012 and was appointed in 2013 to replace former Commissioner Tim Brown after he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives.
Ms. Kennelly of Perrysburg Township is an administrator at a private business college. Mr. Matuszak, an accountant, was elected in November to Perrysburg City Council.
In regional House races, two Republicans are competing to run in the general election for the 4th District House seat being vacated by state Rep. Matt Huffman (R., Lima).
They are Bob Cupp and Kurt Neeper, both of Lima. The winner will face Democrat Robert “Bo” Huenke of Elida.
And voters in the 81st House District will select party nominees to vie for the right to replace longtime state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon), who, like Mr. Huffman, is term-limited. The GOP candidates are Robert McColley of Napoleon and Jason Rockey of Montpelier.
The only Democratic candidate is John P. Lymanstall of Napoleon.
Two Republicans are vying to be the next Seneca County commissioner: Mike Kerschner of Tiffin and Philip Frankart of New Riegel.
No Democrats filed for the race. Commissioner Jeff Wagner is not seeking re-election.
Incumbent state Sen. Cliff Hite (R., Findlay), in the 1st Senate District, faces two primary opponents: Milo Schaffner of Van Wert and Corey Shankleton of Kunkle.
In Sandusky County, Republicans Warren Brown and Jerri Miller will face each other in a primary to succeed County Auditor William Farrell, who is retiring after 36 years in office.
Mr. Brown is the county administrator and Ms. Miller is executive director of the Sandusky County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Staff writer Vanessa McCray contributed to this report.
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com or 419-724-6058 and on Twitter @TomFTroy.