Congressional races to be decided in unusual Ohio primary

Board of election worker Skip White processes ballots at the warehouse for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Cleveland. The first major test of an almost completely vote-by-mail election during a pandemic is unfolding Tuesday in Ohio, offering lessons to other states about how to conduct one of the most basic acts of democracy amid a health crisis. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

By DAN SEWELL Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — A Democratic U.S. House incumbent faces a spirited challenge in central Ohio and two Democrats are competing to take on a potentially vulnerable Republican congressman in the Cincinnati area as Ohio’s primary voting comes to an end Tuesday.

There are primary races in most of the state’s 16 congressional districts, and voters will also choose state legislative and judicial nominees and candidates for local offices. Many ballots also have school and other levies to be decided.

The voting and tabulating process itself will probably draw the most attention.

State officials called off in-person voting just hours before the scheduled March 17 primary for public health reasons during the coronavirus outbreak. Voting has continued mostly by mail, with Tuesday’s in-person voting at county election board offices limited to disabled and homeless people and voters who attest they didn’t get their requested ballots back by mail in time.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, said while some things will be different for this election just as they are in daily lives now, voters can feel confident.

“We’ve run elections through difficult times before,” LaRose said. “We’ve run elections through world wars, through depressions, through all kinds of difficult circumstances. Even though this COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about our lives, there are things that never change. … (Y)our voice matters and your vote will be counted, and Ohio’s elections officials are going to be ready to make sure that we have an honest, a fair and an accessible election.”

Also unknown is how the extended campaigning carried out without rallies or door-to-door canvassing has impacted voter interest.

Ohio’s congressional districts were drawn for incumbent safety, but four-term Rep. Joyce Beatty in Columbus drew a Democratic challenger from the left in Morgan Harper in House District 3. Harper was endorsed by Justice Democrats, the progressive political action committee that helped give rise to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

A career health-care advocate, Kate Schroder, and a veteran Air Force pilot, Nikki Foster, were battling for the Democratic nomination in House District 1 to oppose 12-term Republican Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati. Both Democrats say they believe Chabot’s district is ripe for an upset, with Republican President Donald Trump looming as an issue they could try to use to sway suburban female voters.


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