Democrats pick up state house seats, legislature expecting 5 additional female lawmakers

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Two things happened last night across the country: Democrats won congressional seats currently held by Republicans and took control of the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. and many women were elected to office in the process.

Here in Ohio, something similar happened but not at quite the same level.

Overall, the Democrats are currently outnumbered in the Ohio House of Representatives 66 to 33.

Their hope was to pick up seven seats in the House from the GOP, which was stretched thin having to pick and choose which races to spend money on because they had so many.

Days before the election, Republicans officials said they were playing a lot of defense.

With all 99 seats up for re-election at the same time and the shifting public sentiment always in question, the GOP felt the seats that were in greatest danger of being lost were those in suburban districts where President Donald Trump’s popularity was not high.

“We weren’t necessarily counting on a blue wave, but we did see it as a blue opportunity. But we knew we had to do a lot of work and we still have some work to do and we’re gonna do that work and try to help those folks cross the finish line,” said State Representative Fred Strahorn, the minority leader of the House.

Sure enough, Democrats won a number of those seats primarily in Franklin County, which is one of Ohio’s Democrat strongholds

However, by the end of the night, Democrats had only locked up three seats with margins of victory that have resulted in them being unofficially won.

Four other seats are still very close with the margin of victory around 1 percent or less.

Three of those seats are currently being won by Republicans, but there are absentee and provisional ballots to still be tabulated.

In those three races, the difference between candidates is only a few hundred votes.

One of the seats is being won by the Democrat candidate in a similar boat.

Even if the Democrats pick up all four of the races and get to the plus-7 seat mark, it will be less celebratory than it would otherwise have been as a result of who won the gubernatorial race.

Because the Republican Mike DeWine won the gubernatorial race, preventing veto overrides will not be as big of a deal as it would have been had Democrat Richard Cordray won instead.

However, if the Democrats do not pick up the remaining four seats they will also not be able to prevent any overrides against vetoes DeWine may feel are necessary.

We have already seen Republican legislators are unafraid to flex their legislative might with that override on issues Kasich has vetoed during this General Assembly.

As we enter the lame duck session, that veto override freedom the current General Assembly wields may come into play if Kasich outright rejects bills that come to him in the final days of his administration.

Turning to the increase in female representation through elected office, a wave of new women legislators will arrive in Washington D.C. and Columbus next year.

In the Ohio House of Representatives, there will be a total of 27 female lawmakers in the 133rd General Assembly; 12 of them will be new and not returning lawmakers.

“Ohio is an incredibly diverse state, so to have a diverse group of members, I think, is very important to get a very balanced representation and get a lot of different perspectives, so I welcome that. I think that will be very good for us,” said Speaker of the House Ryan Smith.

The House Republican caucus will see three new female faces in its ranks but overall will lose one of the 10 they currently have, leaving them with a total of nine.

Eighteen of the women serving in the House will be Democrats, which is five more than are currently serving in the caucus.

“A lot of women came out of the woodwork,” said Strahorn. “They were a little bit angry about what’s been going on and they wanted to step up to the plate and be heard.”

Depending on how one of the very close races the Democrats are hoping to win, after absentee and provisional ballots are counted, turns out; they could add another female to their ranks otherwise it the seat will go to the Republican male incumbent.

Some female lawmakers that are currently serving in the House in both parties won their election and are headed to the other chamber. Ultimately it will be a net gain of one female senator at the Statehouse in the next General Assembly.

With the number of new and returning female lawmakers, it appears the total number in Columbus for the next GA will be slightly higher than it currently is.

There are 132 lawmakers that comprise the General Assembly in the House and Senate. Currently, there are 23 women serving in the House, and 6 serving in the Senate. One Republican-held seat is currently vacant in the Senate, and one Democrat-held seat is currently vacant in the House.

Next General Assembly there will be 27 (28 if the female candidate wins a close race with absentee and provisional ballots in House District 28) women serving in the House or a female representation of 27-28 percent. In the Senate, seven women will serve which is a 21 percent female representation.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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