Democrats say they are keying on three Mahoning Valley-area races.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Democrats, deep in the minority in the Ohio House of Representatives, say they're optimistic about cutting into the Republican majority after voters go to the polls Tuesday, but will still be in the minority.
"I believe we are going to pick up seats," House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty, a Columbus Democrat, said in an interview.
Republicans outnumber Democrats 60 to 39 at present. Beatty said she thinks Democrats will pick up three or four seats.
Beatty and other House Democratic leaders are traveling the state today by bus with stops in Norwalk, Mansfield, Millersburg, Dover and Carrollton in support of Democratic candidates.
Among the issues Beatty said Democrats are focusing on in talking with voters are health care, the economy and what they say is a high home foreclosure rate in the state.
Among the House races Democrats are keying on this Tuesday:
The 1st House District , which includes all of Columbiana County. In this race, Republican Jim Hoppel of East Liverpool takes on Democrat Linda Bolon of East Palestine. The incumbent, GOP state Rep. Chuck Blasdel, is running for Congress.
The 61st House District, which includes all of Carroll County and portions of Mahoning, Tuscarawas and Stark counties (including Alliance). In that race, Mark D. Okey, a Carrollton Democrat, squares off against Republican Brant Luther of Alliance. The incumbent, Democratic state Rep. John Boccieri of Mahoning County, is running for the state Senate.
The 64th House District, which includes portions of Trumbull County. State Rep. Randy Law, R-Warren, is being challenged by Democrat Tom Letson, also of Warren.
Officials with the Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of the majority House Republicans, couldn't be reached.
One political scientist said he thinks Republicans, both in Ohio and around the nation, might be under the gun in Tuesday's elections.
"The overriding feature that we've got right now is this anti-Republican tide that is running through all the states but particularly Ohio," said Paul Beck, a political science professor at Ohio State University.
"When you have a tide like that, it obviously advantages the opposing party across the board," Beck said.
All 99 House seats are up for grabs Tuesday. Roughly half of the 33 Ohio Senate seats are up for grabs. The GOP has a 22-to-11 edge in the state Senate.