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Russia invades GOP Senate primary race

In this file photo from Oct. 6, 2020, Jane Timken, the Chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, speaks at the Hamilton County Board of Elections during early voting in Norwood, Ohio.
Dan Sewell
Associated Press
Jane Timken, the former Chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, is running for Rob Portman's Senate seat.

How do Russia and its invasion of Ukraine factor into the race for the US Senate here in Ohio? In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss why business ties to Russia are putting some candidates on the defensive. Statehouse correspondent for the Associated Press Julie Carr Smyth joins the show.

Planning ahead

The Ohio Supreme Court called "strike three" on the Ohio Redistricting Commission, rejecting the latest version of maps for the Ohio House and Ohio Senate. The court said the maps once again were too partisan, drawn to clearly favor Republicans.

Unlike in baseball, the commission gets another pitch or maybe several more. The court has given them until Monday, March 28th to present a 4th map. In blunt terms, the majority said the commission should hire an independent map maker who answers to the entire commission, not just Republican legislative leaders.

The minority on the court called the decision an exercise of raw political power – nothing less, nothing more.

The decision all but kills the chance of a regular primary on May 3rd. Lawmakers may split the primary – one for statewide races, one for legislative and congressional districts. Or they may just delay the primary until June... July... August... Who knows?

From Russia with love

This week Russia became an issue in the U.S Senate campaign. It seems that several of the candidates have connections to Russia. And that’s not a good thing right now as everyone is seemingly cutting ties with the country that invaded its neighbor Ukraine.

Much of the mud-slinging has been aimed at Jane Timken, who has financial interests with Russia via her husband's family's business, TimkenSteel.

It seems candidates Mike Gibbons and J.D. Vance also have had business dealings with Russian companies. And Josh Mandel is indirectly tied to Russia from his ex-wife’s family’s real estate company, which sold part of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center to a Russian Oligarch.

Snollygoster of the week

After promising to “do something” after the 2019 Dayton mass shooting, Gov. Mike DeWine has instead loosened gun regulations. This week, he signed the bill eliminating a special permit and the special training required to carry a hidden gun. Despite that, he told reporters that he remains committed to tightening gun rules in Ohio.

Send questions and comments to snollygoster@wosu.org.