It’s been a wild ride already and we’re still in March. The ride could end today for two presidential candidates, depending on what happens in Ohio and Florida, and there is plenty else to keep an eye on Tuesday. Here are the top things to watch:
1, John Kasich: A loss in his home state will likely mean that the Ohio governor suspends his quest for the presidency. Several polls show him with a small lead over Donald Trump, but even with the 66 delegates that a win in Ohio would give him, Kasich could not mathematically win the nomination before the party convention. Still, a loss would be catastrophic, not only for his campaign but probably for those seeking to block Trump from getting the nomination. A win in Ohio keeps Kasich in the race, even if it’s only in a spoiler role.
2. Marco Rubio: When the candidates began lining up last year, the two Florida Republicans – Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush – were at the top of everyone’s list for the GOP nomination. After today, both could be gone. Rubio is trailing badly in the polls in his home state and could even finish third, a disastrous outcome that would raise questions about his political future. But Rubio still could be a power-broker in the nomination fight because of his 163 delegates. If Trump falls short of the total he needs before the national party convention in Cleveland, look for him to start saying nice things about the man he calls “Little Marco.”
3. A dominant night for Trump: He is widely expected to win Florida, which has the biggest cache of delegates available on the night – 99 – and he is leading in polls in Illinois and North Carolina. A run of Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Illinois would put Trump in such a commanding position that stopping him would be almost impossible. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may need to win Missouri and do well in several other states to keep the race competitive.
4. Hillary and Bernie: Most Democrats expect a close race in Ohio, although a Monmouth University poll released Monday gave Hillary Clinton a 14-point lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Other polls have the Ohio race closer. Meanwhile, Clinton is widely expected to take Florida and she is leading in North Carolina, so an Ohio victory for Clinton would seriously narrow Sanders’ possible path to victory.
5.County races: Both Clark and Champaign counties have contested county commission races on the ballot today — three Democrats will face off in Clark County and two Republicans in Champaign County. On the Democratic ticket in Clark County, Dale Henry, Darrell Jackson and Roger Tackett are running to face Republican Melanie Flax Wilt in November. In Champaign County, incumbent David Faulkner faces challenger Douglas Hoffman.The winner there faces no Democratic candidate on the ballot this fall. Clark County Republicans also have a contested primary for Common Pleas Court Clerk between Bob Suver and Melissa Tuttle. The winner faces Democrat and longtime incumbent Ron Vincent in November.
6. Delegate math: Sanders needs to do some serious winning — beginning today — to flip the script on what appears to be Clinton’s race to lose. Sanders had a surprise win in Michigan last week but still trails Clinton by more than 650 delegates. For Sanders’ fans, the depressing news is this: With her huge lead in what the party calls superdelegates, Clinton is more than halfway home to the nomination even before any of the 780 delegates up for grabs today are awarded.
7. U.S. Senate: Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has faced a spirited primary challenge from Cincinnati Councilman and fellow Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld, who has struggled for state-wide name recognition even as he criticized Strickland over his positions on gun control and his refusal to debate. Democrat Kelli Prather, a Cincinnati occupational therapist is also in the race. Republicans will choose from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, and Don Elijah Eckhart, a retired budget analyst from Galloway. Green party candidate Joseph R. DeMare of Bowling Green is unopposed.
8. U.S. House-8th Congressional District: This is a two-vote primary for the seat vacated by retired U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, the West Chester Twp. Republican who stepped down last year. Fifteen Republicans are vying for the job, along with an unopposed Democrat and one Green Party candidate. If measured by money and political advertising, the Republican race is mostly between State Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City; State Rep. Tim Derickson, R-Hanover Twp.; and businessman Warren Davidson, a former Concord Twp. trustee from Troy. The district is heavily dominated by Republicans, so the winner will likely be the one to take Boehner’s seat. Don’t be confused when you see the race on the ballot twice. One vote selects the nominee to run in a June 7 special election to fill the remainder of Boehner’s term. A second vote picks a nominee to run in the Nov. 8 General Election for the full two-year term beginning Jan. 3.
9. Local Tax Issue: Northwestern Local Schools is on the ballot again with a substitute levy that won’t raise taxes. District leaders said they think the language on the ballot last November confused some voters and it was rejected. The five-year, 7.24-mill levy continues a previous substitute levy passed by voters in 2010 and set to expire at the end of 2016. It generates nearly $1.7 million for the district annually.
10. State legislature: Tenth District Ohio Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield, stepped down this year and Robert D. Hackett, a Republican state representative from London, was appointed to finish his term, which ends this year. In the race for a full term beginning in January, Hackett faces Republican Brian Walton of Beavercreek, while Democrats Michael Sergio Gilbert of Springfield and Matthew Kirk of Yellow Springs face off. And four Republicans are competing for Hackett’s now-vacant House seat — Joe Russell and Brendan Shea of London, Chris Wallace of Plain City and Bill Dean of Xenia. The winner will face Democratic candidate Barb Niemayer in the fall. In Champaign County, Republicans John Adams of Sidney and Matt Huffman of Lima are facing off in the primary to serve the 12th Ohio Senate District. That seat became available because Ohio Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, is term-limited.