Democratic incumbents in Ohio, a state that has been trending conservative, are heavily involved in the upcoming election to pass an amendment protecting abortion rights in the state’s Constitution.
They’re knocking on doors and phone banking in contested districts, speaking at rallies and in interviews in favor of the amendment, and attacking their GOP opponents for defending the state’s six-week abortion ban. The endangered candidates, and the Ohio Democratic Party fighting for their survival, are betting that supporting abortion rights in 2023 will position them for victory in 2024 as it has for many other swing state Democrats since Roe v. Wade fell.
Representative Greg Landsman (D-Ohio), who represents a vulnerable district in Cincinnati, stated that the measure is not only the morally correct course of action, but also widely supported. He is actively advocating for its implementation.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added two more members to its list of “frontline” incumbents who are considered vulnerable. These include Representatives Marcy Kaptur and Emilia Sykes, who have actively participated in door-to-door outreach for the campaign. Additionally, Senator Sherrod Brown has taken the lead on phone banking efforts and consistently brings up the issue during his campaign stops while seeking reelection in a traditionally conservative state.
The outcome of the November 7th vote and the difference in votes will influence tactics and communication plans in Ohio for the upcoming year. This will also have an impact on other key states, where the issue of abortion is expected to be on their ballots, as well as on Democratic efforts to maintain control of the Presidency and gain control of Congress. The election will serve as a test to see if at-risk Democrats can use widespread support for abortion rights to secure election wins, even with a year between elections.
Voter participation has been strong thus far. As of October 24th, over 300,000 early votes have been submitted, and the state is expected to greatly surpass the turnout of the previous off-year election in 2021.
They are sure they can overcome the abortion-rights amendment in the current year and shift the focus of the 2024 discussion to other topics that benefit the GOP, such as President Joe Biden’s ability to lead, the state of the economy, and the issue of crime.
In anticipation of Election Day in less than three weeks and with early voting already taking place, Governor Mike DeWine, current Secretary of State and Senate candidate Frank LaRose, and other Republican leaders in Ohio are heavily investing their political resources into the battle over abortion. This will be their final test before the 2024 election to see if the issue will continue to hinder the GOP.
Voter participation has been strong thus far. As of October 24th, over 300,000 ballots have been submitted ahead of time, and the state is expected to surpass the turnout from the last non-presidential election in 2021.
Although anti-abortion supporters recognize their lack of success in raising funds, advertising, and polling, some conservatives reject the notion that the Ohio referendum will predict the results of competitive elections in 2024.
Ohio Republican Party Chair Alex Triantafilou stated that he does not believe this will be a reliable indicator as perceived by the left. He believes that the upcoming election in 2024 will serve as a judgment on Joe Biden, as is typically the case in presidential elections.
In the past, Ohio was a key state that could swing either way in elections. However, in the last ten years, Republicans have been successful in winning most of the statewide offices. In addition, former President Donald Trump won the state twice, with a 9-point lead in the 2020 election. Both local and national progressive organizations view the upcoming referendum as a chance to change this trend. They believe that a victory could show Ohio voters and national groups that the state is not a hopeless case for the Democratic party.
Matt Caffrey, organizing director for Swing Left in Ohio, expressed concern over the professional political class viewing Ohio as an unwinnable state. Despite recent losses, the upcoming referendum is an important opportunity to showcase the state as worth fighting for, rather than a hopeless Republican stronghold.
In 2017, there was concern that the Democrats’ emphasis on abortion rights could potentially push away conservative voters. However, this year, they have taken action by organizing door-to-door campaigns in northwest Ohio to defeat the referendum in August. They also plan to continue door-knocking with Democratic clubs in the last days leading up to the election in order to support the November referendum that aims to safeguard these rights in the state’s Constitution.
In 2022, Sykes narrowly won the election to represent the Akron district previously held by Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. They created multiple videos for the Ohio Democratic Party in favor of Issue 1, participated in canvassing and phone banking efforts, and will attend a Planned Parenthood rally in support of the measure during the final weekend before Election Day.
“I used to be a disillusioned member of the Democratic party, wishing for our candidates to address the importance of having autonomy over our own bodies,” Sykes stated during an interview. “However, in recent years, I have been pleasantly surprised by the drastic change in Democrats’ willingness to discuss reproductive rights and access.”
A new member of the House, Landsman, was able to win over his district in southwestern Ohio during the last election. He is now working with Swing Left to go door-to-door and speak with constituents. According to POLTICO, Landsman has found success in reaching out to more conservative individuals by discussing how abortion rights impact both the state’s economy and families. This approach mirrors the tactics used by Michigan Democrats in their successful fight for a referendum last year.
The individual stated that the goal is to safeguard Ohio’s current growth. They cautioned that if the proposal does not succeed, there is a possibility of people leaving or not relocating to Ohio. This can include both individuals and businesses who do not want to raise a family or invest in a state with limited freedoms and difficulty attracting skilled workers.
Create a television advertisement for Protect Women Ohio, the primary organization against Issue 1, stating that the proposal is excessive and unsuitable for Ohio.
LaRose initiated his Senate campaign shortly before leading a special election in August to increase the requirements for ballot initiatives. This attempt was unsuccessful, and LaRose admitted it was solely motivated by his desire to hinder the abortion rights referendum. Along with many other Republican leaders, including the lieutenant governor and multiple state legislators, LaRose also gave speeches at a large anti-abortion protest in October held on the state Capitol steps in Columbus.
Two additional prominent Republican contenders competing to challenge Brown in the upcoming year, entrepreneur Bernie Moreno and state Senator Matt Dolan, have also strongly opposed Issue 1, deeming it “extreme” and “radical.”
Requests for interviews with Moreno and Dolan were left unanswered. The top contenders for the GOP nomination to run against Representatives Kaptur, Landsman, and Sykes also did not reply.
The Republican Party’s communication against the amendment centers around the belief that it would remove laws mandating parental consent for minors seeking an abortion. However, this argument is not supported by the language of the ballot measure, as they claim that the use of the term “individuals” instead of “adults” would lead to this outcome. Democrats and external organizations, such as the Ohio branch of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reject this assertion.
In an interview, LaRose stated that my school requires a signed document in order to administer aspirin to one of my daughters. Additionally, we have a policy that prohibits individuals under 18 from getting tattoos without parental consent. The thought of a teenage girl going through a difficult situation and being taken to an abortion clinic without her parents present is concerning to many of us.
The Democratic party in several states, including those that are pro-choice, have differing opinions on laws regarding parental consent. However, a recent survey conducted by Baldwin Wallace University in October suggests that LaRose’s argument may not be effectively reaching its target audience.
Among all participants, 58% expressed their approval for the amendment, while 65% of parents were in favor of its passage.
The Democratic Party in Ohio, represented by Walters, believes that this push for anti-abortion measures will have negative consequences for GOP candidates in the upcoming year.
According to the speaker, voters are becoming familiar with the candidates through their actions of attempting to restrict their rights and undermine the democratic process in our state. This is not a positive first impression. She also notes that by doing so, the candidates are inadvertently highlighting their differences and beliefs.
During the webcast on Tuesday evening, leaders from the anti-abortion movement at both state and national levels urged their followers to take action by donating, volunteering, fasting, and praying in the next two weeks. They expressed concern that another defeat for their cause would empower Democrats to continue using ballot measures to overturn abortion restrictions in both conservative and moderate states.
David Bereit, a leader in the fight against abortion and founder of 40 Days for Life, emphasized that the issue at hand is not limited to Ohio. This is a pivotal moment for the entire nation, as the decision made here will have a significant impact on the future of abortion in the United States, either strengthening or hindering the agenda across the country.