Election 2022: What you need to know about Ohio Supreme Court races

Republican Sharon Kennedy and Democrat Jennifer Brunner, who are currently Ohio Supreme Court justices, are running against each other for chief justice.
Republican Sharon Kennedy and Democrat Jennifer Brunner, who are currently Ohio Supreme Court justices, are running against each other for chief justice.
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The biggest races getting the least attention this fall are probably the fights for chief justice and two seats on the Ohio Supreme Court.

The seven member court has been in Republican control since 1986. The Ohio Democratic Party, which has captured top court seats in recent elections, aims to change that. The Ohio GOP and business community are fighting to hold a majority of seats.

A recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll shows all three races are very close contests.

What's at stake?

Balance of the Court2022 election will bring different Ohio Supreme Court to ongoing redistricting battles

Supreme Court decisions impact how much Ohioans pay in taxes, whether utility companies can add fees to ratepayers' bills, how insurance and business laws are interpreted, what government records will be available to the public and more.

The court also plays an enormous role in ruling whether legislative and congressional maps created by the Ohio Redistricting Commission are constitutional.

Justices serve six-year terms.

Who's running for chief justice?

Republican Maureen O'Connor, who has served in statewide office longer than any woman in state history, can't run for reelection as chief justice due to age limits. Justices Sharon Kennedy, a Republican, and Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, are running for chief.

Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to appoint a Republican to fill the seat left vacant when either Kennedy or Brunner win.

It's the first time the chief's job has been open since 2011.

Who's running for justice?

Two appellate court judges −Democrats Marilyn Zayas and Terri Jamison − are trying to unseat Justices Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer, two Cincinnati Republicans.

If either woman wins a seat, control of the court will shift to the Democrats. If the women win, Zayas would be the first Latina to serve on the high court and Jamison would be the third Black woman.

Ohio Republicans are looking to hang onto control of the court. At a recent meeting of the Ohio Republican Party, Patrick Reagan, a state central committee member from Cincinnati, warned his fellow Republicans to focus on the court races.

"Mark my words: if we lose two of these three Supreme Court races this fall, shadow governor Jennifer Brunner. And that is a terrifying situation to be in. This is going to be a highly competitive general election," Reagan said.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Matt Keyes said voters have a chance to "reject extremism" and elect justices who believe in the rule of law.

"For too long, we’ve seen the GOP-led court use the bench to play politics, and it’s time to restore integrity and justice back to the Supreme Court,”he said.

Laura Bischoff is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Election 2022: What to know about the Ohio Supreme Court races