Columbus DSA March 2024 Democratic Primary Voting Guide

Contact: info@columbusdsa.org

COLUMBUS — The Columbus chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) issues the following recommendations to residents of Central Ohio voting in the March 19, 2024, Democratic primary election.

  1. In Delegates-at-Large and Alternates-at-Large to the National Convention, LEAVE BLANK.
  2. In For U.S. Senator, LEAVE BLANK.
  3. In For Representative to Congress (3rd District), LEAVE BLANK.
  4. In For Representative to Congress (15th District), vote ZERQA ABID.
  5. In For Justice of the Supreme Court (Unexpired term ending 12-31-2026), vote TERRI JAMISON.
  6. In For State Representative (10th District), vote SARAH POMEROY.
  7. In For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, vote STEPHANIE HANNA.

A detailed rationale for each recommendation follows. Additionally, see our addendum about the race for Franklin County Prosecutor.

Disclaimer: No recommendations made here are endorsements. Columbus DSA has not endorsed any candidate in this upcoming election. To our knowledge, there is no candidate that comes close to sharing our vision of democratic socialism as will be necessary to establish a free and just society. These recommendations are tactical considerations meant to minimize the harm likely to occur to the working class here and abroad as a result of this election.

Do you lament the lack of socialist, abolitionist, and pro-BDS candidates running for office? You can be a part of changing that, whether by running for office yourself or helping us to discover and cultivate future socialists-in-office. To advance the democratic socialist movement in Central Ohio, join DSA today: www.columbusdsa.org/join/.

Recommendation 1

In Delegates-at-Large and Alternates-at-Large to the National Convention, LEAVE BLANK.

DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC), our elected leadership, alongside DSA-endorsed U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, supported an “Uncommitted” vote in the Michigan Democratic primary. The Listen to Michigan campaign to convince Democratic voters to vote “Uncommitted” was a remarkable success, earning over 100,000 “Uncommitted” votes in the primary. Campaigns in Hawaii, Minnesota, and other states have yielded similar successes.The Listen to Michigan campaign sent a clear message to President Biden: “Recant your support for Israel’s crimes, or you will lose reelection.” We stand by this message wholeheartedly. 

Show the Democratic Party that Biden’s support for Israel’s crimes will cost Democrats the presidency if he fails to reverse course and repair the harm he has aided and abetted.

Because our primaries lack the option to vote “Uncommitted,” we recommend that Columbus voters simply leave this field blank. Unfortunately, unlike in some states, blank votes are not counted in Ohio. Meaning, these votes will not be tallied for or against Biden.

We note that Dean Phillips, the only other candidate on the ballot, has suspended his campaign and endorsed Biden. Therefore, if voters would like their vote to be tallied against Biden, they can safely mark their ballot for Phillips without actually lending support to Phillips in the election.

Recommendation 2

In For U.S. Senator, LEAVE BLANK.

Sherrod Brown has a strong record of support for organized labor, LGBTQ+ rights, and other progressive causes. We commend his recent decision to voluntarily recognize his campaign staffers’ union.

At the same time, Sen. Brown also has a strong record of support for Israel. Brown opposes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and supports the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, a proposed federal law that would make it easier for states to promulgate BDS bans. Further, he objected to UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which found that Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights violated international law.

Brown will be the Democratic nominee for the general election. We recommend that voters not mark their ballots for him in this primary to demonstrate that his continuing support of Israel is unacceptable.

Recommendation 3

In For Representative to Congress (3rd District), LEAVE BLANK.

Joyce Beatty retracted her signature from a letter to President Biden calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, claiming it was added in error. At a joint session of Congress welcoming Isaac Herzog, President of Israel, on July 19, 2023, Beatty said: “We are proud to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary and strengthen the ironclad relationship between the U.S. & Israel.” The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights gave Beatty a score of “F” in its 2024 scorecard tracking Congressional Democrats’ records on Palestine. For 2024, Beatty has been endorsed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Democratic Majority for Israel.

Despite constant overtures from community organizers and members of her constituency over the past months and years, she has refused to recant her previous statements labeling Israel a U.S. ally, or to join the calls for a ceasefire led by DSA-endorsed Reps. Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib. While we recognize that Rep. Beatty has recently voted against new apportionments of aid to Israel, these votes are too little too late, and Rep. Beatty has not signaled any change in her stance on long-term political and financial support of Israel.

Beatty will be the Democratic nominee for the general election. We recommend that voters not mark their ballots for her in this primary to demonstrate that her continuing support of Israel is unacceptable.

Recommendation 4

In For Representative to Congress (15th District), vote ZERQA ABID.

Zerqa Abid is founder and president of MY Project USA, a non-profit organization providing youth-focused community services in Columbus. She is running to challenge the incumbent in this seat, Rep. Mike Carey, a Trump-endorsed former coal lobbyist and pro-Israel Republican.

Abid supports a $15 minimum wage, gun control, and abortion access. If elected, she has promised to vote to restrict U.S. military interventions and oppose funding any foreign government or other entity committing human rights abuses. She supports a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Her primary opponent, Ohio Rep. Adam Miller, has been endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party. Abid will need all the help she can get to take on the Democratic establishment.

Recommendation 5

In For Justice of the Supreme Court (Unexpired term ending 12-31-2026), vote TERRI JAMISON.

Terri Jamison is a former Franklin County public defender and a supporter of the Ohio Sentencing Data Project, which will provide the public with detailed knowledge of the state of criminal sentencing in Ohio. Jamison, formerly a West Virginia coal miner, is a supporter of reproductive rights and bail reform. If elected, she would be the third Black woman to serve in the Supreme Court of Ohio. We see merit in Jamison’s blue-collar background, a more diverse state supreme court, and a supreme court more friendly to progressive positions on issues of criminal law.

Recommendation 6

In For State Representative (10th District), vote SARAH POMEROY.

Pomeroy is a Senior Assistant City Attorney in Columbus, working in the Nuisance Abatement division. Her work entails prosecuting out-of-state landlords that abuse tenants. Having witnessed the scale of Central Ohio’s housing crisis, Pomeroy is running on increasing the affordable housing supply, stopping property purchases by out-of-state private equity firms, and encouraging occupancy of vacant housing.

If elected, Pomeroy has promised to fight to overturn H.B. 68 and push back against attacks on reproductive healthcare. She supports automatic and same-day voter registration, and politician-free redistricting.

Pomeroy has been endorsed by Sheet Metal Workers Local 24, the Ohio Environmental Council, and Ohio Rep. Munira Abdullahi, among others.

Recommendation 7

In For Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, vote STEPHANIE HANNA.

If elected, Hanna has promised to establish a reentry docket to help individuals released from prison reintegrate into society. Her campaign has stated that Franklin County is the only large county in Ohio still lacking such a docket, and Hanna sees the need for one here. We agree.

Hanna, who has served on the boards of the Children’s Hunger Alliance, YWCA Columbus and Mental Health America of Ohio, would be the first Egyptian-American judge in Franklin County, and the second in Ohio. Noting that less than a third of Ohio judges are women, Hanna wishes to redress that inequality.

Hanna was registered as a Republican from 2014 to 2021, and ran as a Republican in the 2016 and 2020 judicial elections. She voted as a Democrat from 2010 to 2012 and re-registered as a Democrat in 2022. She also previously served as a prosecutor in Tiffin. Still, we see merit in voting for her over her primary opponent, Ohio Rep. Richard Brown, who opposes establishing a reentry docket, on this single issue.

Addendum

There is no candidate in the upcoming prosecutorial election that meets DSA’s standards for criminal legal reform. Rather than recommending a certain candidate to voters, we will simply state what we know about each.

Pierson

Pierson currently serves as deputy chief counsel in the office of Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack. He previously worked as an Assistant Attorney General under Dave Yost, where he oversaw the A.G.’s investigations into officer-involved critical incidents and shootings. Pierson has been endorsed by Tyack and Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin.

Writing in the Dispatch, Rev. Raymond Greene, Jr., executive director of Freedom BLOC, urged Columbus residents to vote against Pierson due to his failure to prosecute the officers who shot and killed 25-year-old Jayland Walker in 2022. Pierson oversaw the Attorney General’s investigation into that shooting. J.U.S.T. 614, a trusted community organization and core organizing partner of our chapter, has also called on residents to oppose Pierson’s candidacy. Pierson’s campaign is attempting to address concerns over lack of transparency in officer-involved shootings. If elected, Pierson has promised to mandate that the case file for any offer involved use-of-force case be posted publicly online within 48 hours of a grand jury’s failure to indict.

Pierson previously defended the Franklin County Prosecutor’s decision to recommend a bond of $400,000 for any defendant charged with possessing a firearm who was previously convicted of a first or second-degree felony for drug or violent offenses.

Given the grievances that members of our community have lodged against Pierson, we cannot recommend a vote for him.

Favor

We also cannot recommend Shayla Favor. Despite testimony before City Council by Columbus DSA’s Housing Campaign highlighting Blackstone’s abysmal housing practices and human rights record, Favor voted to permit the private equity firm and real estate developer to build in Columbus. Leaders within our chapter have continually expressed disappointment with Favor over the chasm between her behavior and rhetoric, as well as for her treatment of them in her capacity as a Councilmember, up to and including standing them up when they showed up for a pre-scheduled meeting.

When the Dispatch asked each of the prosecutorial candidates for comment following the mistrial in Jason Meade’s prosecution, Favor was the only candidate to decline to answer the question of whether she would retry the case. In lieu of an answer, Favor replied: “As an agent of change, I am committed to leading with transparency, prioritizing accountability, and honoring the dignity and respect of every Franklin County resident.” This vague moral posturing, rather than a conclusive response to questions posed by the community as to her positions, perfectly mirrors the way she has spoken on housing policy in her tenure as a Councilmember.

Favor supports death penalty abolition and opposes cash bail, calling it “the definition of an unjust and inequitable system.” Favor’s campaign website communicates pledges to not pursue incarceration for low-level offenses and to provide meaningful alternatives to incarceration. However, while these are remarkable promises, our previous experience indicates that she would fail to make good on them if elected.

Harris

The authors have little to say on Natalia Harris. Rather than taking political stances, her campaign has focused largely on highlighting her experience as the city attorney for Delaware, as well as her experience as a former prosecutor and Columbus city attorney. She has stated that her motivation for running is to address the backlog of unresolved murder cases in Franklin County, which she alleged in January to be at 251. Pierson, current deputy chief counsel for Prosecutor Gary Tyack, said that this number was “wildly” inaccurate, and that the backlog is actually at less than a third of that number.

Harris has said that she would be willing to seek the death penalty in a criminal prosecution, stating: “If there is a case that warrants it, then that is a tool that I will employ.”

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