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    Here’s what we can learn about Ohio politics from the defeat of Issue 1: Capitol Letter

    Rotunda Rumblings

    Issue 1 takeaways: State Issue 1′s defeat this week brought some obvious and more under-the-radar wins for Ohio Democrats. Andrew Tobias breaks down the rare development, as well as what it may mean for Frank LaRose’s chances for the U.S. Senate in 2024.

    Counting votes: Across all of Ohio’s 88 counties, the Republican-backed State Issue 1 underperformed former President Donald Trump’s 2020 victory in Ohio, an eight-point win that saw Trump capture all but seven counties. Issue 1, in contrast, failed in 22 counties while leaking votes so heavily in the counties where it passed that it produced a 14-point loss. Zachary Smith reports on the big margins against Issue 1 in urban counties and the leakage for Republicans in rural areas.

    A doctor no more: More than two years after telling Ohio lawmakers that vaccines make you magnetic and interface with cell towers, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny lost her medical license. Jake Zuckerman reports on Tenpenny’s downfall and medical board members affirming that no doctor is above the law.

    Betty has thoughts: The Ohio Senate president name-dropped ex-Attorney General Betty Montgomery when he explained why he thought Issue 1 failed. Zuckerman reports Montgomery is just fine with that. She said lawmakers awakened a “sleeping giant” in the Ohio electorate and overstepped drastically, and she said it’s time to take redistricting out from the hands of an already-gerrymandered state legislature.

    Open accusation: The OneOhio Recovery Foundation, the nonprofit in charge of deciding how to spend more than $400 million in state opioid settlement money, is again being accused of violating state open-meetings law. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, the group Harm Reduction Ohio has asked a Franklin County judge to hold OneOhio in contempt, claiming a search committee looking for executive director candidates met behind closed doors even after the judge ordered the group to make its meetings public. OneOhio disputes the claim.

    Bathroom battle: A federal judge on Monday upheld the Bethel Local School District’s decision to let transgender students use communal restrooms consistent with their gender identity, dismissing a challenge from a group of parents and students who objected on religious grounds, Sabrina Eaton writes. “Not every contentious debate, concerning matters of public importance, presents a cognizable federal lawsuit,” said the decision from U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. Newman.

    Catholic ideology: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a Champaign County Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday queried the FBI about communications between its agency field offices that resulted in production of a memo that warned of violent extremism from those steeped in “radical-traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology.” Wray last month told Jordan’s committee the FBI’s Richmond field office produced the document, but Jordan’s office says information it obtained from the FBI indicates its Portland and Los Angeles offices contributed. The letter seeks all communications about the issue between the relevant field offices.

    Taking a left: Ohio’s Issue 1 vote, as well as results from recent abortion-related ballot measures in five other states, shows how “abortion, particularly when presented to voters directly, is an effective wedge issue for the left,” writes Philip Bump of the Washington Post. The “no” vote for Issue 1 was, across Ohio’s 88 counties, an average of 22 percentage points higher than support for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Out of a total of 510 counties in six states, the pro-abortion access side outperformed Biden in 500 counties.

    Crystal ball: Kyle Kondik, an Ohio native and political analyst for the University of Virginia, writes in his post-election analysis that the defeat of Issue 1 doesn’t change expectations that Ohio will vote Republican in next year’s presidential election. But the “no” campaign’s relative success in Clermont, Warren, Delaware and Union counties “reinforces our view that (Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod) Brown’s path to reelection probably runs through improvement in the suburbs, as Democrats seem to have more room to grow in counties like that.” Kondik said it’s hard to tell what the Issue 1 might foretell about the November abortion-rights vote, though he wrote that “the pro-abortion rights side starts the November campaign with a cushion.”

    Symbolic win: A bereaved Akron father on Wednesday praised a Summit County judge’s $18 million judgment against the Zheng cartel, the maximum punitive damages allowed under Ohio law, in response to a lawsuit filed by Families Against Fentanyl. “To save American lives, we must stop the foreign manufacturers and traffickers of illegal fentanyl and hold them accountable,” said the organization’s founder, James Rauh, whose son, Tommy, died in 2015 while attempting to take an injection that, unbeknownst to him, contained acetyl fentanyl from China, produced and sold by the Zheng drug trafficking organization.

    Full Disclosure

    Five things we learned from the May 12, 2023 financial disclosure form filed by state Sen. Hearcel Craig, a Columbus Democrat.

    1. In addition to Craig’s Senate salary, which last year was $80,394.84, in 2022 he received somewhere between $10,000 and $24,999 in Social Security payments, a state tax refund somewhere between $1,000 and $9,999, and less than $1,000 each from serving as a pastor at two Columbus-area churches: Triumphant Church of God and Refuge Temple Church.

    2. Craig was an advisory board member of the Chamberlain School of Nursing.

    3. He reported investments with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, Ohio Deferred Compensation and Ivy Asset Strategy Fund.

    4. Craig reimbursed himself $3,860.58 in travel expenses from his campaign account in 2022. For Craig’s trip to Israel last year as part of a trade mission, the Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau and Ohio Jewish Communities, Inc., each paid $2,456.57 for Craig’s flights, hotels, ground transportation, meals, and other expenses.

    5. At some point last year, Craig owed at least $1,000 to 15 different creditors, including Wells Fargo, Telhio Credit Union, Lexus Financial, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Citi, CareCredit, Capital One, NTB, Gap, Fifth Third Bank, Merrick Bank, CME Credit Union, Barclays Bank and Microf (an HVAC vendor).

    Straight From The Source

    “All the deranged lefty trolling today on Issue 1, you’d think it’s been decades since Democrats won anything in Ohio.”

    – Bob Paduchik, a former Ohio Republican Party chair, complaining Wednesday on Twitter about how opponents of the GOP-authored State Issue 1 reacted after the proposed constitutional amendment was soundly defeated on Tuesday.

    Capitol Letter is a daily briefing providing succinct, timely information for those who care deeply about the decisions made by state government. Subscribe to get Capitol Letter in your email box each weekday for free.



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