Officials, organizations respond to defeat of Issue One
As ballots were counted across the state in August 8th's Special Election on Issue One, leaders of statewide organizations and public officials waited in anticipation.
Early vote totals had "NO" off to a strong start that never really slowed as the night went on. By 9:00pm, enough was written in the cards that 21 News Analyst Dr. Bill Billing told 21 News he projected Issue One would fail.
Shortly after, AP, NPR, and other news outlets across the country made the call.
While the Secretary of State won't rule on the election's result until more ballots are counted, it is safe to say that Ohio's voters have spoken, delivering Issue One, which would've presented substantial barriers to amending Ohio's constitution, a sound defeat.
As reputable organizations began calling the election, Ohio's elected officials and political organizations began sharing their thoughts. Elizabeth Walters, Chair of the ODP, was quick to pin the Issue's defeat on one of it's biggest statewide proponents, Ohio Secretary of State and Senate Candidate Frank LaRose.
“Tonight was an important victory for our state, the voters of Ohio and the principle of majority rule. Ohio Democrats were proud to play our part in stopping this political power grab by out-of-touch politicians at the statehouse," Walters said. "Most notably Frank LaRose, who made himself the face of this effort and is now officially Ohio’s biggest loser."
Sherrod Brown steered clear of political jabs, despite being the likely Democratic nominee in one of the nation's most hotly contested Senate seats in 2024.
“Ohioans saw this amendment for what it was: a power grab by powerful people designed to silence their voices. By rejecting State Issue 1, Ohioans rejected special interests and demanded that democracy remain where it belongs – in the hands of voters, not the rich and powerful. That is what has always guided me and I am proud to stand with Ohioans in this fight," Brown said in a statement.
In his reaction to the night's results, issued just before midnight, LaRose said in part that he is "grateful that nearly 1.3 million Ohioans stood with us in this fight...Unfortunately, we were dramatically outspent by dark money billionaires from California to New York, and the giant ‘for sale’ sign still hangs on Ohio’s constitution."
Even President Biden commented on Ohio's rejection of Issue One, saying in a statement that "This measure was a blatant attempt to weaken voters’ voices and further erode the freedom of women to make their own health care decisions. Ohioans spoke loud and clear, and tonight democracy won."
Not everyone was so happy to see the measure fail at the ballot box, however. While some are still waiting hopefully for final tallies, some organizations who supported the measure seem to be admitting the loss, albeit with critical feedback for their conservative officials.
"It is a sad day for Ohio and a warning for pro-life states across the nation. Millions of dollars and liberal dark money flooded Ohio to ensure they have a path to buy their extreme policies in a pro-life state," said the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. "Tragically, some sat on the sideline...so long as the Republicans and their supporters take the ostrich strategy and bury their heads in the sand, they will lose again and again.”
The Ohio Federation of Teachers and Ohio State AFL-CIO were very early on in the night, and the first major organizations to publicly comment on the measure's defeat.
Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga said, “The resounding defeat of Issue 1 puts the legislative backers and Secretary of State LaRose on notice that the citizens of this state and working people will never relinquish their constitutional right to direct democracy and simple majority rule."
Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, echoed a similar sentiment shortly after:
"Ohio voters from across the political spectrum sent a loud and clear message today that we believe in majority rule, we believe in ‘one person one vote,’ and we believe that these shared values are more important than what political party you’re in, what you look like, or where you live," she said.
Whether or not you supported Issue One, Tuesday's election presented some interesting trends that may be worrying for the GOP moving into 2024.
In 2022, Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana Counties all voted for JD Vance. On Tuesday, Issue One was defeated in both Trumbull and Mahoning by double-digit margins. Even in deep-red Columbiana, "YES" on Issue One performed 10 points worse than Vance in 2022.
The failure of Issue One will also likely reflect poorly on Secretary of State and 2024 Senate Candidate Frank LaRose, one of the Issue's main proponents. Just a week prior to the election, LaRose went on a statewide tour to promote the Issue's passage, to little avail.
LaRose's primary opponents, Matt Dolan and Bernie Moreno, have yet to issue any statements on the measure's failure despite their prior public support. Also silent is Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who voiced his support of the measure back in May but has otherwise been relatively quiet on the issue.