COLUMBUS, Ohio (WMCH) — Four incumbents are looking to retain the Republican stronghold over statewide elected offices in Ohio.
Setting aside the race for governor between Republican incumbent Mike DeWine and Democrat Nan Whaley, as Ohioans vote early now or on Election Day Nov. 8, they will be asked to determine the officeholders of attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and auditor.
What do they do?
As the state’s top law enforcement officer, the attorney general is tasked with enforcing the state constitution and determining when laws conflict with it. The office has more than 30 divisions – including the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Environmental Enforcement, and Workers’ Compensation – that operate in various legal spheres and represent state agencies in court, according to the office’s website.
- Dave Yost, a Republican
- Rep. Jeffrey Crossman, a Democrat
Incumbent Dave Yost, elected to the office in 2018 after an eight-year term as state auditor, is running against state Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma).
Since assuming office, Yost has signed on to a number of lawsuits against corporations and public agencies when he perceives a threat to the interests of Ohioans – whether it be a $438.5 million settlement with Juul Labs for the e-cigarette brand’s marketing to youth or suing the Biden administration for threatening to withdraw federal funding from states who fail to expand Title IX protections to LGBTQ+ students.
The fate of abortion is influenced in part by the attorney general, as shown when Yost successfully petitioned a judge in June to remove a preliminary injunction that had blocked enforcement of Ohio’s six-week abortion ban, which prohibits the procedure once fetal cardiac activity is detected.
Crossman, an attorney who was elected to the Ohio House in 2018 and previously served a five-year term on the Parma City Council, has objected to a number of Yost’s moves and vowed to remove the office’s appeal against a Hamilton County judge’s decision to stop enforcement of the state’s abortion law while it is being challenged.
In the legislature, Crossman has introduced a number of bills, including one aimed at requiring gun trigger locks with firearm sales and another that would prohibit price gouging on baby formula.
Secretary of State
What do they do?
The Secretary of State oversees Ohio’s elections by issuing instructions to the state’s 88 county boards of elections, approving the language for statewide ballot initiatives, training poll workers, and investigating voter fraud.
The secretary sits on the Ohio Redistricting Commission, a seven-member group tasked with redrawing state legislative maps every 10 years. Other responsibilities include reviewing campaign finance reports and business applications.
- Frank LaRose, Republican
- Chelsea Clark, Democrat
- Terpsehore “Tore” Maras, independent
Incumbent Frank LaRose, elected in 2018 and endorsed by the Ohio Republican Party, faces two challengers — Democrat Chelsea Clark and independent Terpsehore “Tore” Maras.
During his tenure, LaRose created the state’s first Election Integrity Task Force to review claims of fraud or irregularities and tackle a “crisis of confidence” in the elections process. At the same time, LaRose touted Ohio’s stellar accuracy in administering elections and called voter fraud “exceedingly rare.”
Before presiding over elections administered during COVID-19 and this year’s administration of two primaries due to the months-long redistricting process, LaRose served as a state senator in Ohio’s District 27 from 2011 to 2018.
Clark, who received the Ohio Democratic Party’s endorsement, was elected as a city council member in Forest Park, a suburb of Cincinnati, in 2017. As a single mom with a background in teaching and finance, Clark said she’s running “because our democracy is under attack.”
With voting rights at the top of her campaign platform, Clark pledged to stop purging people from the voter rolls, introduce same-day voter registration, and allow Ohioans to request an absentee ballot online.
As an independent, Maras was late to the campaign trail — LaRose originally blocked her name from the ballot — but the Ohio Supreme Court disagreed, reentering her name into the race.
Maras is a podcaster who has embraced false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against Donald Trump in his loss to Joe Biden. Election integrity is one of her top campaign priorities, according to her website.
What do they do?
Serving as the state’s chief financial officer, the treasurer of Ohio is tasked with acting as the state’s banker by overseeing the cash that flows in and out of the state’s account. The treasurer is responsible for overseeing Ohio’s investment and debt portfolios, along with domestic and international custody portfolios, according to the office’s website.
- Scott Schertzer, a Democrat
- Robert Sprague, a Republican
Sprague, endorsed by the state GOP, is the incumbent, elected in 2018, and is running against Democrat Scott Schertzer, who has served as mayor of Marion since 2008.
In his biography, Sprague touted his creation of ResultsOHIO, a program within the treasurer’s office that aims to fast-track remedying societal problems – whether that be social or public health-related issues – by allowing private entities to earn state dollars if they can prove progress was made.
Sprague, who served Ohio’s 83rd House District from 2011 to 2018, oversaw the state’s Family Forward program as treasurer to alleviate the financial burden of adopting a child. Sprague’s office said the STABLE Account program saw “unprecedented growth” during Sprague’s tenure, providing specialized savings and investment accounts for Ohioans with disabilities.
In addition to Schertzer’s 15 years leading the city of Marion, the Ohio Democratic Party’s endorsee worked as a classroom teacher for 13 years before serving a nine-year stint on Marion City Council. Schertzer was named president of the Ohio Municipal League, a coalition of city officials to advocate for the needs of the local governments.
What do they do?
The auditor and the more than 800 auditors employed by the office are responsible for conducting financial and performance audits of nearly 6,000 public entities in Ohio – from townships and villages to libraries and universities – to root out fraud and promote transparency.
- Keith Faber, a Republican
- Taylor Sappington, a Democrat
Incumbent Republican Keith Faber, backed by the Ohio GOP, is running for reelection against Nelsonville City Auditor Taylor Sappington, a Democrat.
Since 2019, the auditor’s office under Faber’s leadership has helped win nearly 90 convictions against corrupt public officials, according to his campaign website, including ousted Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, who was sentenced to prison for stealing from office.
Faber, who owns a private law practice in Celina, touted himself as an award-winning conservative whose team helped discover more than $5 billion in fraud and overpayments within Ohio’s unemployment compensation system during the COVID-19 pandemic. In January, an audit of the Department of Medicaid revealed $118.5 million in erroneous payments to prisoners and dead people, Faber said.
Sappington, who launched a failed campaign for Ohio House District 94 in 2018, was elected as the Nelsonville City Auditor in 2019, where he had to right the ship after his predecessor was indicted for stealing thousands of dollars from the office.
After an aggressive push from Sappington and the Nelsonville City Manager, the IRS in October 2021 wiped in full the city’s liability of nearly $400,000.