Ohioans surfing the web this week may see ads railing against Secretary of State Jon Husted, but they’re not from his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Nina Turner. A Democratic-led national political action committee began running online ads against Husted last week and a conservative-driven rival PAC also plans to raise and spend money on the race as well. The national attention is to be expected, given recent politically charged battles in the Statehouse over early voting days and ballot procedures. But the national groups also are looking to the 2016 presidential race and the role secretaries of states can play as chief elections officials in crafting and enforcing voting rules that favor their respective parties. The 2014 voting hours set by Husted last week, which omit evenings and the Sunday before Election day, have been characterized by Democrats as a partisan move to suppress voting by minorities and working Ohioans.
John Green, director of the University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Center for Applied Politics, said the outside money shows partisans on both sides view elections as extremely important.
Green said contributing to a down-ticket race such as secretary of state can deliver a larger return on investment. In those races, campaigns have smaller budgets and voters are less aware of the candidates and their platforms. “There is an opportunity for targeted campaign contributions to identify for voters who these candidates are and where they stand on these issues,” Green said.
Republicans currently hold 24 of the 39 elected secretary of state offices.