Area’s 2020 election competition already busy: A breakdown by seat

The region’s 2020 political races are already stocked with candidates seeking statewide and national offices.

Five of the top races for 2020 have at least four candidates, as of Friday, seeking election.

Experts say the competition is a good sign of the community’s political health.

“Not only are races for open seats typically more attractive for candidates than are those that involve an incumbent; more broadly, we are in an extraordinarily unpredictable political environment right now — and many of the ‘rules of thumb’ that usually typically help us to predict the outcomes of political races simply are not reliable right now,” said John Forren, Miami University Regionals political science professor.

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Cedarville University political science professor Mark C. Smith said people understand government matters and policy has a significant impact.

“If few people are running or interested, it probably indicates a serious disconnect between the people and the government,” he said. “Competition at lower levels is also a good way to maintain political accountability. Facing the voters regularly, where seats are actually on the line, requires a bond between candidates and voters.”

4th Ohio Senate District

The race for Ohio’s 4th Senate District seat will feature two sitting state lawmakers and a trustee of the state’s most populous township.

Ohio Reps. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., will forgo running for re-election and seek the senate seat currently held by Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., who can seek re-election due to term limits. West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong, a four-term trustee who's been the top vote-getter in his past three elections, is also seeking the seat.

Whoever wins the GOP nomination in March 2020 will face Liberty Twp. Democrat Kathy Wyenandt, who lost to Lang for the 52nd Ohio House District seat in 2018. She's the only announced Democrat running in this race.

Wyenandt had the best showing among the three Democrats running for the Statehouse in 2018 since the redistricting following the 2010 Census.

52nd Ohio House District

For now, there's only two candidates for the 52nd Ohio House race to succeed Lang. Republican Jennifer Gross, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, unsuccessfully ran in 2018 to unseat Todd Hall as the Butler County GOP executive chair. She would face West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch in March 2020 for the GOP nomination. Welch was elected in 2017 to a second term as trustee, and co-owns SoZo HAIR by Bajon Salon & Spa with his wife, Karen.

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53rd Ohio House District

Running two succeed Keller for the 53rd Ohio House District representative are three Republicans, a Democrat and a Libertarian.

Diane Mullins, Jeffrey Wellbaum and Madison Twp. Trustee Thomas Hall are seeking the GOP nomination in March 2020, and Middletown School Board member Michelle Novak, a Democrat, and Libertarian Tim Conrad would face the GOP winner in the November election.

12th District Court of Appeals

There are three candidates who have pulled petitions for the 12th District Court of Appeals. Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Noah Powers, the only judge in the race, Coley, and Warren County attorney Matthew Byrne want to succeed appeals court Judge Robert Ringland, who cannot seek re-election due to the state's judicial age restriction.

The 12th District court hears appeals made after common pleas court cases are decided. There are eight counties in the court’s jurisdiction, and include Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble and Warren counties.

Cases are heard at the state's 12 district appeals courts before they are appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

8th Congressional District

A pair of Democrats will run to be their party’s nominee for the 8th Congressional District, while a Republican hopes to best U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, as the district’s representative to Congress.

Democrats Clint Combs, of Hamilton, and Bill Ebben, of West Chester Twp., who unsuccessfully ran for the party’s nomination in 2018, will face off in the 2020 primary.

Republican Edward Meer, of West Chester Twp., was one of 15 candidates who sought the 2016 party nomination for the seat when Davidson won. Davidson has been voted to represent the district three times — a special election in June 2016, the 2016 general election and the 2018 election.

The 8th Congressional District represents all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami and Preble counties, and the southernmost portion of Mercer County.

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