Election News and Stuff

You voted on stuff. Here's how that turned out.

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Smale Riverfront Park
Smale Riverfront Park

Good morning all. I hope you’re shaking off your post-election-party and/or Twitter binge hangovers. Now that the dust has cleared on a pretty intense election night, let’s check out the results, shall we? I’ll summarize in case you fell asleep early and then we’ll talk about the big ones in depth.

Statewide stuff:

Issue 1: The Ohio state representative redistricting reform measure passed overwhelmingly, getting 71 percent of the vote.

Issue 2: The constitutional amendment designed by lawmakers to limit proposed amendments like Issue 3 granting special oligopolies or monopolies passed with about 52 percent of the vote.

Issue 3: ResponsibleOhio’s proposal to legalize marijuana for Ohio residents age 21 and up while creating 10 legal grow sites throughout the state failed, getting 36 percent of the vote.

In Kentucky, Republican Matt Bevin delivered a surprise trouncing of Democrat Jack Conway, besting him with 53 percent of the vote to Conway’s 44 percent.
Local issues:

Issue 22: The controversial charter amendment creating a 1 mill property tax increase to fund a number of proposed park projects failed. It got about 41 percent of the vote.

Issues 23 and 24: These cleaned up charter language and moved the mayoral primary. Both passed with about 62 percent of the vote. • The whole country was watching as Ohio voters wrestled with Issues 2 and 3 last night, with any number of big national media outlets recycling reporting from the past months and turning in lukewarm takes about the proposed amendment.

ResponsibleOhio’s bid was a pretty gutsy gambit — wagering more than $20 million that Ohio voters would legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana even as their proposal lacked support from key national and statewide legalization advocates, who balked at the proposal’s structure.

Pro-legalization groups who otherwise might have been supporters expressed squeamishness about the fact that the amendment would have awarded a group of about 50 investors, including a New York fashion designer and the former Pop star Nick Lachey, the only 10 legal grow sites in the state. That hesitancy, combined with the older, more conservative electorate that turns out in non-presidential election years, sank the amendment decisively.

The main question is whether the rout was about legalization itself or simply the so-called “oligopoly” the amendment would have created. Polling in Ohio shows that voters here favor legalization by a slim margin, suggesting it may not be a lost cause in the future, given a more attractive structure.

Some groups are working on campaigns to get legalization on next year’s ballot, but they face a huge hurdle: the overwhelming expense of mounting such a ballot initiative in Ohio, a politically diverse swing state and the country’s seventh most populous. ResponsibleOhio collected more than 800,000 signatures to net the 300,000 valid ones needed to land the amendment on the ballot. That’ll be a big obstacle for any group, though if they can get a measure in front of voters, it may benefit from high presidential election year turnout and increased interest raised in this year’s campaign.

• Locally, Issue 22 was the focus of attention. The plan to fund some 17 park projects by raising property taxes 1 mill was the subject of an intense political firefight over the past few months. Detractors of the parks plan put forward a number of objections to the measure ranging from assertions that it gave the mayor and the park board he selects too much power to fears that the proposed projects would lead to increased commercialization of parks.

The anti-Issue 22 victory here is interesting due to the truly David and Goliath nature of spending on the campaigns. The pro-Issue 22 camp, backed by major corporate donors such as Kroger, Western & Southern and others, spent an estimated $1 million on television ads, mailers and other slick campaign materials. Amendment opponents, however, spent about $7,500, with only a single radio ad buy. The list of opponents was formidable and diverse, however, including a majority of Cincinnati City Council, local civil rights icon and former amendment supporter Marian Spencer, both streetcar advocates such as Over-the-Rhine activist Derek Bauman and streetcar opponents COAST and environmental group the Audubon Society.

While some city precincts, mostly on the East Side, passed the measure, many, including Cranley’s West Side home precinct, said no thanks. The bigger question now is what this means for Cranley as mayor. Two years into his term, the mayor has lost two big, hard-fought political showdowns, first over the streetcar and now over his parks proposal. While he’s had plenty of policy victories as well, these dramatic fights may signal an opening for a primary challenger to take a run at the 2017 mayoral election. The campaign over the parks tax was particularly heated, and even some supporters seem to have come away disillusioned by the effort. Cranley has sounded a conciliatory note in post-election statements, saying he's proud to have stood up for the idea but will take the results as the will of Cincinnati voters and seek to serve their wishes.

If you already miss the excitement of following local ballot issues, there are a couple that look likely for next year. Supporters of the Preschool Promise, an initiative that looks to extend preschool to more Cincinnati children, are holding an introductory event tonight at Rhinegeist brewery from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. With 44 percent of the city's children living in poverty, that initiative looks to be a big one for 2016.

• Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Republicans handed Democrats a beating. Bevin's election as governor is something of an upset, as polls had Conway up by as much as five points heading into voting. Bevin is only the second GOP governor in the last 40 years in Kentucky. The race was also a walloping down-ticket, with Republicans taking most major statewide offices except attorney general, won by Democrat Andy Beshear, and secretary of state, which Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes hung onto. Not good news for Democrats.

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