I'm Kymberli Hagelberg, you're listening to Weekend Edition on 90.3.
Democrats and Republicans all over the state are fired up about a handful of races that will determine whether Republicans keep or lose their majority in the Ohio House of Representatives. One of the key races in that battle is a choice between incumbent Democrat Jennifer Brady and Westlake Councilwoman, Republican Nan Baker for Ohio's 16th district, which covers Westlake, North Olmsted, Rocky River and Bay Village.
James Holland is a political science professor at Tri-C and the University of Akron. He says Brady surprised Republicans in 2006 by beating well-liked Afghanistan war vet Edward F. Herman, who was tapped to replace term-limited Republican Sally Kilbane, by less than 1,000 votes. The suburban westside district usually leans Republican. Holland says state party leaders are optimistic they can overcome the fallout from the scandals that cost republicans in the last election.
Holland: They felt that a lot of the seats that they lost in 2006 are part and parcel of the problems that went on with Gov. Taft and Tom Noe, the Coingate, the Bob Ney story etc. I think they're kind of judging the 16th as a bellweather -- whether or not they can get some of these seats back."
Brady has heavy union support and backed a proposed law that would have mandated employer-paid sick leave. The measure was dropped from the ballot, but Brady's support of it was criticized in a Plain Dealer endorsement that went to Baker.
Baker is a small business owner who counts among her supporters some big names in local finance and investment who are generally opposed to government regulation and taxes. At a recent candidates night in Westlake she said she would bring those conservative principles to the statehouse.
Baker: "I certainly understand the challenges of small business. Less taxes, less mandates, less restrictions. We need to let businesses do what they do best, and that is hire their employees and invest in their business."
Brady was a last minute no-show at the event, which fell on the same day the Ohio Elections Commission found "probable cause" for an investigation into an ad bought for her by the state Democratic caucus.
A moderator read Brady's written statement, in which she said she feels her responsibility to constituents is the same as her duty to her family as a stay-at home mother.
"You must work hard to make sure all things that impact them are for their greater good in the short and long term.
And defend them when they are attacked."
To keep their majority, Republicans will have to win back the 16th, and hang on in a tight race in the 42nd district in Summit county, where a Democrat is favored.
Democrats must keep Brady's seat, and win four more to take control of the house for the first time since 1994.
Kymberli Hagelberg, 90.3