Politics Strickland, Portman and others vie for Senate seat By Ellen Bardash Posted on March 14, 2016 9 min read 1 0 889 Photo courtesy ttarasiuk via Flickr. U.S. Senate: One of Ohio’s two Senate seats is up for grabs in the March 15 primary. The front-runners in this election are incumbent Republican Rob Portman and former governor and congressman Democrat Ted Strickland. Six others are also running, including two Independent candidates and one from the Green Party. According to polling data from RealClearPolitics, Strickland is currently up by about 2 points. Ted Strickland: A Democrat from Scioto County, Strickland served six terms as a congressman for Ohio’s 6th district and was governor from 2007 to 2011. He has also worked as a prison psychologist and a minister. According to his website, he is strongly in favor of increasing the minimum wage and closing the gender wage gap, as well as conducting background checks on everyone who buys guns. While he does not support repealing the Affordable Care Act entirely, Strickland believes some changes should be made. Rob Portman: Portman, a Republican from Cincinnati, is Ohio’s incumbent Junior Senator and has served in the Senate since January 2011. He has worked under both of the Bush administrations, worked as a private practice lawyer and served as a member of the House of Representatives. Portman describes himself as a “commonsense conservative,” advocating for “pro-growth policies that will lead to private sector job creation,” increased control of government spending and a simplified tax code. He is strongly opposed to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and has a 100 percent rating from National Right to Life, according to his campaign website. Kelli Prather: Prather is a Democrat from Cincinnati who currently works as an occupational therapist. She believes the Affordable Care Act should be expanded and is an advocate for public education who believes all children in Ohio should have access to at least two years of high-quality public preschool before they enter kindergarten. Her platform also emphasizes economic inclusion, such as offering incentives for offering employment to people “from specific demographic, underserved backgrounds.” PG Sittenfield: Sittenfield is a Democrat from Cincinnati with goals of rebuilding the middle class by rejecting bad trade deals and advocating for collective bargaining. His Everyone Deserves a Shot Initiative is aimed at reducing student loan debt and making college more accessible to young Americans. He also has plans to reform American cities, including decreasing incarceration rates and implementing tighter gun control laws. Tom Connors: Connors is an independent who believes that “the establishments of both political parties are not serving our national interests.” His “Front Porch Campaign” supports legal immigration, traditional marriage values, economic freedom and fair trade and opposes abortion and Common Core. Don Eckhart: Eckhart, a Republican, has served in several state and local government positions related to policy and finance. He is strongly anti-abortion and is opposed to government intervention in the economy. Joe DeMare: The only Green Party candidate running for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat, DeMare is a machine operator in a ceramics factory. He is an environmentalist who believes that “fracking, off-shore drilling, leaking and cracked nuclear plants, pipelines, injection wells, and oil spills all need to be shut down, permanently,” according to his website. DeMare also supports a $15 hourly minimum wage and a simplified universal health care system. Scott Rupert: Rupert is an Independent whose stances on political issues revolve primarily around the goal of making government smaller, citing states’ rights as outlined in the Constitution. He supports increased border security, the implementation of a constitutional amendment that would end omnibus spending and the end of foreign energy dependence. Ohio’s 94th District Representative: Two Democrats and one Republican are competing to take the position of Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-Albany, who currently represents Ohio’s 94th District in the state House of Representatives. Either Sarah Grace and Eddie Smith will win the Democratic nomination for the position on Mar. 15 and will go on to face currently unopposed Republican Jay Edwards in November. Sarah Grace: Currently a real estate business owner, Grace has lived in Athens since she attended Ohio University. According to her website, she believes that tax dollars should go toward public services such as funding infrastructure projects and hiring police and firefighters. As “a leader in the education community, working to expand opportunities for all our children,” Grace wants to make higher education accessible for everyone and thinks that tax dollars should stay within the community rather than going toward charter schools. She is a proponent of Medicaid expansion and wants to diversify employment in the community by using local resources, increasing the availability of fiber optic broadband and expanding the tourism industry. Eddie Smith: Smith has lived in southeastern Ohio for his entire life and is now completing his masters degree in Public Administration at OU. His campaign platform is based on the idea of creating a “sustainable future” for the 94th District, including using renewable energy sources, protecting the environment and promoting unions and small farming businesses. Smith, who has served as president of OU’s Graduate Student Senate, cites this as experience with standing up to “money interests in higher education” and believes this will enable him to make college more affordable if elected.