The upcoming Aug. 2 special primary election in Ohio is the result of exhausting redistricting drama that just won’t end.
The state's districts where voters are deciding their representatives are based on a set of maps repeatedly rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court as unconstitutional for unfairly favoring Republicans. Ohio is now required to pass new maps before the 2024 election. In the meantime, the August primary will shape what final races will look like in the general election on Nov. 8.
Ohioans can vote in the Aug. 2 special election by mail or in person. Residents, including people who have been incarcerated for a felony, must have re-registered to vote by July 5.
In Hamilton County, all State Senate candidates are unopposed for the August primary, but some voters will have to choose their fighter for the fall race for the Ohio House of Representatives.
These are the races to look out for:
Democrats will decide between Dani Isaacsohn and Dale Mallory. Isaacsohn, who attended attended Walnut Hills High School, is endorsed by Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval, Hamilton County Sheriff Charmaine McGuffy and Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus, among others. Isaacsohn's campaign website notes he is in favor of universal childcare, "common sense approaches" to gun laws and reproductive freedom access.Mallory is a former member of the Ohio House representing District 32 from 2006 to 2014 who does not have a campaign web presence. The winner will face off against moderate Republican candidate Adam Koehler in November, who describes himself as “fiscally conservative but socially conscience" on his campaign website.
District 27 — Eastern Hamilton County
Democrats will decide between Rachel Baker, a pediatric nurse who is pushing for diverse perspectives in schools, and Gavi Begtrup, an entrepreneur who wants "reasonable gun safety laws." The winner will face off against one of three Republican candidates: Lindsay Cole, a self-described businesswoman, single mom and former cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals, Jenn Giroux, a registered nurse endorsed by Cincinnati Right to Life whose campaign website claims "abortion is never medically necessary" to save a patient's life, and Joe Murray, a real estate agent from Anderson Township endorsed by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and the National Rifle Association.
District 28 — Northern Hamilton County
Republican voters will decide between business consultant Kim Georgetonand former aerospace engineer Chris Monzel. Georgeton is endorsed by multiple pro-Trump organizations and describes public schools as "marxist indoctrination camps" on her campaign website. Monzel served as a Hamilton County Commissioner for multiple terms until 2018. The winner will seek to unseat Democrat opponent Representative Jessica E. Miranda come November. Miranda is currently serving her second term and is one of three primary sponsors on the Enact Ohio Equal Pay Act, a bill to address wade disparities within Ohio.
District 30 — Western Hamilton County
Republican voters will decide between Angela S. Hymer and current seat holder Bill Seitz, who championed gutting Ohio's clean energy standards in the state's 2019 coal and nuclear bailout law. Hymer, whose digital campaign presence is minimal, posted on her Facebook page in April that she was endorsed by Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and former national security advisor to former U.S. President Donald Trump (Flynn resigned amid allegations of inappropriate communications with Russia and had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the investigation). In November, the winner will face off against Democrat Alissa Mayhaus, a University of Cincinnati graduate living in Green Township. She does not have an issues page on her campaign website, but she has received an endorsement from the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund.
District 56 — Warren County
A notable House race outside of Hamilton County is in District 56 in nearby Warren County, which encompasses abortion care battleground cities Mason and Lebanon.
Democrat voters will have to decide if either Joy Bennett or Sam Cao has what it takes to defeat the Republican candidate in a district that stands out as one of the most anti-abortion in Ohio.
The city of Lebanon enacted a city-wide ordinance that outlaws abortion care in May 2021. Mason soon followed, passing a near-identical ordinance that was later repealed by a newly-elected city council. They were the only two cities in the Buckeye State with such a ban, even though neither city had an abortion care provider (After the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade on June 24, Ohio banned abortion after six weeks gestation except in a handful of circumstances and before many people even know they are pregnant. There are no exceptions in cases of rape or incest, and doctors performing abortions can be charged with a fifth-degree felony).
Bennett is a freelance writer and former candidate for Mason City Council who has been an outspoken supporter of abortion care access since the fight started in her backyard before the overturn of Roe v. Wade. In 2021, CityBeat published a guest commentary from Bennett that railed against Mason's abortion-ban plans.
Cao, who also is outwardly against abortion restrictions, is only 17-years-old but will turn 18 before the November election, according to an interview with the Ohio Capital Journal. Cao is confident he can tackle the political fight while managing his last year of high school, but voters will decide if he’s more or less capable than Bennett of defeating a Republican in the only district that banned abortion care before the Supreme Court got its hands on Roe.
Republican voters in the same district are deciding between Kathy Grossmann and Adam Mathews. Grossmann, a Mason City Council member, served as mayor of the city when the abortion-ban ordinance originally went into place. She later voted against repealing the ban while on Mason’s City Council – a fight she ultimately lost.
Meanwhile, Mathews is endorsed by Ohio Right to Life and Cincinnati Right to Life and has testified in favor of Ohio’s "heartbeat bill." His campaign website says Mathews “has helped empower mothers and families to make godly life choices” (Legislators have called Ohio's law the "heartbeat bill" because it limits a patient’s right to terminate a pregnancy after the detection of a "fetal heartbeat." However, medical experts say that this is not an actual heartbeat, but rather sporadic electrical flutters which occur after about six weeks and before many people even know they’re pregnant).
There are additional races on the ballot, depending on your location. For a full rundown of voter resources, election calendars, identification requirements and more, visit the Ohio Secretary of State's website or a local county board of elections website, such asthat for Hamilton County.