The decision of the Ohio General Assembly to place a political party label on candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court and Ohio Court of Appeals had a direct impact on the success or failure of candidates for judicial office in Ohio. This conclusion is based upon on the results of the election of judges at the statewide level as well in smaller, court of appeals districts.
In short, the Ohio Supreme Court, elected on a statewide basis won roughly the same number of votes as their Republican counterparts running for other statewide constitutional offices of Attorney General, Auditor, Secretary of State and Treasurer. Ohio Supreme Court Justices Sharon Kennedy and Jennifer Brunner campaign against each other for the seat of Chief Justice. Incumbent Justices Pat Fisher and Pat Dewine also sought re-election. The Republican candidates for state Supreme Court all stayed consistent with a tough on crime approach that connected with Republican Ohio voters.
The impact of the party label on the Ohio Court of Appeals races is even more insightful. Ohio operates with 12 court of appeals districts that hear all appeals from the trial court level in Ohio’s 88 counties. The party label clearly helped Democratic candidates in the large urban counties of Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton counties. All four competitive races in these urban counties went the Democratic candidates for court of appeals. 8 competitive races outside of Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati for court of appeals race were held in 2022. Republicans had a clean sweep of all these court of appeals races that included urban and rural counties—even defeating incumbent Democratic Earl Wise from Canton’s Stark County.
If the goal of the Ohio General Assembly was to align the election of Ohio’s judges with their party affiliation of their district—mission accomplished.