What’s at stake in Ohio’s primary election? More than some may think

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – It is now less than two weeks until Ohio’s 2024 primary election and although the presidential field is likely set with a rematch between President Joe Biden and Former President Donald Trump, there is still a lot to watch for during the primary.

“There’s a bunch at stake,” Democratic strategist Derrick Clay said.

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At the Ohio Statehouse, there are several contentious Republican primaries.

“These are very heated races,” Republican strategist Matt Dole said. “There are strong opinions on both sides of these races.”

The statehouse has been plagued with Republican infighting this past year and both Clay and Dole said the outcome of some of those state representative races could ultimately mean one thing: who is the next Speaker of the Ohio House.

“This is not about an ideological shift as much as it is an internal power struggle for the speakership and who’s going to lead the House,” Dole said.

“I think it could be a little more right-leaning coming out of the primaries,” Clay said. “But at this point, I think it’s just a balance of who is going to be in the hunt for the speaker’s race.”

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Ohio’s speaker determines the rules of the chamber, decides what legislation gets assigned to committee, and receives floor votes.

Dole said, for the average Ohioan, the negativity may be creating political fatigue.

“Negativity moves voters, make no mistake about that,” Dole said. “But these races have dozens of mail pieces flying back and forth with essentially the same accusations.”

In some cases, whoever wins the primary has no general election challenger, meaning this month’s race might tell you who your next state representative or senator is.

As far as statewide races, there is a three-way Republican primary for U.S. Senate between Frank LaRose, Bernie Moreno and Matt Dolan.

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“The primary is important on the Republican side because this is going to decide their best candidate that they are going to put up against our incumbent Sherrod Brown,” Clay said.

“People need to look, not only at who they agree with ideologically, but who has the best shot to beat Sherrod Brown,” Dole said.

Ultimately, in the general election this November, whoever wins in the U.S. Senate race could play a large role in deciding which party holds power in that chamber. Recent data shows all three men hoping to take on Brown are polling just a few points away from each other.

“I think there are some who thought when President Trump came in and endorsed Moreno, that would shut down the race,” Dole said. “But that has not happened.”

“This is anybody’s race at this point,” Clay said. “When you look at the margins, it is only a couple points between each candidate.”

Election Day is March 19, but you can head to the polls now for early voting, and voters can choose either Republican or Democrat when casting their ballot. Doing so will lock in the voter’s party affiliation for the next two year.

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