State Rep. Sean O’Brien will run next year for the Ohio Senate

By David Skolnick


State Rep. Sean O’Brien will run next year in the open race for the Ohio Senate rather than seek a fourth term in the state House.

“I’ve had the opportunity to represent the 63rd House District and I look forward to expanding that work into the 32nd” Senate District, said O’Brien, a Democrat from Bazetta.

Former state Rep. Tom Letson of Warren, who represented the 64th House District for eight years, announced last month that he would run next year in the Democratic primary for the 32nd, which includes all of Trumbull and Ashtabula counties and a portion of Geauga County.

This will set up a Democratic primary between the two next year.

Letson unsuccessfully ran last year for an Ohio Supreme Court seat, getting 27.4 percent of the vote against incumbent Justice Sharon Kennedy.

It was an unsuccessful year for Ohio Democrats, with Letson receiving the lowest percentage of any of the party’s candidates who ran statewide. He even lost in his home county of Trumbull, receiving 45.8 percent of the vote.

The 32nd Senate District is strongly Democratic with Trumbull as its most-populous county.

Republicans control the state Senate 23-10.

Capri Cafaro, a Democrat from Liberty, was appointed in 2007 to the state Senate seat to replace Marc Dann, who resigned after being elected attorney general. Cafaro was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.

The state’s term-limits law prohibits Cafaro from seeking re-election next year. She has said she doesn’t plan to run for a political office next year.

“Those are big shoes to fill, as she’s done a great job,” O’Brien said of Cafaro.

O’Brien, a former Trumbull County assistant prosecutor, was first elected in 2010 in the 63rd District, which takes in about half of Trumbull. If O’Brien had opted to seek re-election to his House seat and won, he wouldn’t be able to run for it in 2018.

House seats are for two years while Senate positions are for four years.

The 64th District, which Letson, an attorney, represented for eight years ending Dec. 31, 2014, includes the rest of Trumbull County and a southern portion of Ashtabula County.

Dec. 16 is the filing deadline for the March 15 primary. Neither O’Brien nor Letson have filed nominating petitions to run.

Hubbard Councilman Ben Kyle, D-1st, announced last month that he would run in the 63rd House race next year.

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