Swing state: Ohio voters make statements in election

Republican Ohio governor-elect Mike DeWine and Ohio Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown

Ohio’s electric cooperatives were born out of politics. It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, recognizing the disparity between urban life (with electricity) and rural life (without electricity), who included the Rural Electrification Act (REA) as part of his New Deal.

With that in mind, your cooperative remains actively engaged in government at the local, state, and federal levels. The decisions made by elected officials and regulators and the people elected or appointed to make those decisions have real impacts on the affordability, reliability, and safety of your electric system.

Ohio’s — and America’s — electric cooperatives played an active role in the November midterm election, including vigorous voter registration efforts and outreach to candidates during the campaign. Even though it was a midterm, it was apparent that the results would have an impact on the decisions made by policymakers in Columbus and Washington, D.C. — and, recognizing that importance, voters turned out at the highest rates in nearly 100 years.

“There are a number of issues that we know are important to your cooperative and your community, and we will continue to communicate those issues to all of our elected representatives,” says Marc Armstrong, director of government relations at Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives. “Our political strength is based on the strong ties and trust that elected officials have with their electric cooperatives. By establishing relationships throughout this campaign season, we are in a strong position with all of our elected officials.”

At the federal level, Democrats picked up 38 seats in the House of Representatives, giving them the majority in the lower chamber for the first time since 2010.

In Ohio, 14 of 16 representatives were re-elected to Congress. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) won his first full term after earlier winning a special election to replace Pat Tiberi, who retired, and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) won an election to replace Jim Renacci, who did not run for re-election in order to focus on his U.S. Senate campaign. Renacci was defeated in that race, as Ohio re-elected Democrat Sherrod Brown to a third term. Republicans, however, added two seats to their majority, which stands at 53 to 47.

Brown touted his support of innovation in the energy sector during the campaign, including support of “the next generation of coal-based energy production,” as well as his work to support co-ops’ access to low-interest loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ohio voters elected Republicans to all five statewide executive offices. Mike DeWine defeated Richard Cordray, former Ohio treasurer and attorney general, in the governor’s race. DeWine promised to work on a range of issues that affect rural Ohioans, including reducing the opioid crisis and improving job training and the economic climate in order to bring new jobs to all areas of the state.

Also winning statewide were Dave Yost (attorney general), Frank LaRose (secretary of state), Keith Faber (auditor), and Robert Sprague (treasurer).

The decisions made by elected officials and regulators and the people elected or appointed to make those decisions have real impacts on the affordability, reliability, and safety of your electric system.

In the state House of Representatives, Democrats gained six seats, including three in suburban Franklin County. However, Republicans will keep a veto-proof majority with 60 seats in the 99-member chamber. In the state Senate, Republicans will maintain a 24 to 9 majority.

Your cooperative will remain committed to playing an active role in policymaking at the local, state, and federal levels. But if the last few elections have taught us anything, it’s the importance of voters in rural Ohio and rural America to make it a priority to participate in government. The simplest way for cooperative members to do that is to make sure they vote every year for candidates who understand the important role cooperatives play in their communities.