Ohio Republicans clearly outperformed Democrats in the final weeks of the 2020 election, according to final campaign numbers released by the Ohio Secretary of State.
It’s a reality that Democrats running for office across Buckeye state have struggled for years. They are often spent a lot. For example, the Ohio Republican Party spent $ 7.5 million on races at the State House between October 15 and December 4. Democrats spent about $ 2.8 million.
More: What Democrats say they have to do to win Ohio
“If I had a million dollars left, I might have won another seat or two,” said Aryeh Alex, Ohio House Democratic caucus director.
But it would not have changed the balance of power in Columbus, where Republicans control the House, Senate, and governor’s office. In fact, if Alex’s caucus had won those two seats, the Republicans in the House would still be one seat higher from the last General Assembly. The Republicans will move from 61 to 64 house seats in January.
How can you convince donors to open their wallets when they experience losses?
You start by telling them that a redistribution that changes the maps for all state and federal offices means that the races will be fundamentally different in 2022.
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“We’re running for new seats that have never been before,” said Rachel Coyle, campaign leader for the Ohio Senate Democrats. “It would be difficult to get people into the same districts that we ran in.”
Demographics (party registration, voter history) in some districts are insurmountable for Democrats.
Betsy Rader, for example, has overtaken her Republican opponent for a Senate seat in northeast Ohio. Her campaign has spent more than $ 217,000 in the past few weeks. But she still lost 60% to 40% to Jerry Cirino of Kirtland, Lake County on election night.
On the flip side, the Ohio Republican Party spent nearly $ 200,000 in the final weeks of October to rescue the suburban home of Rep. Dave Greenspan of Westlake. He lost to the Democrat Monique Smith from Fairview Park.
“You have to deal with the expectations,” said Alex. “This is a long-term game to rebuild the party. Early and continued investment in the party will help.”
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Democrats also need to do a better job of connecting with diverse groups like the Somali people of Columbus. Both Alex and Coyle pointed out that central Ohio is home to more than 60,000 Somali immigrants, making the region the second largest concentration of Somali immigrants in the United States
“We don’t have a Somali in the local elected office …” said Alex. “You can’t just show up in October and say there’s an election coming up, here, vote with us. You have to invest time and money now. I don’t think we really did.”
It’s an issue that Emilia Sykes, Chair of the Minority House of Representatives, has been raising for months. The Akron Democrat told The Dispatch in September that her party hadn’t done nearly enough to reach black voters – especially those who had moved to the suburbs.
“I think that’s why we Democrats lose every single election,” she said. “It’s a terrible strategy.”
And it could change sooner rather than later. Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper recently announced that he will be stepping down at the end of the year. The party’s executive committee is due to hear about possible successors at its December 15 meeting. The vote is scheduled for December 29th. Alex wants to wait, however.
“I think the plan is more important than a chair,” said Alex. “Once you have a plan, you can find someone to carry it out … let’s unite the party first.”
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