Ohio Could Be Make Or Break For Senate Dems | Crooked Media
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March 19, 2024
What A Day
Ohio Could Be Make Or Break For Senate Dems

In This Episode

  • Ohio is one of five states holding primary elections on Tuesday. A few big races there will make it a key state to watch in November. Democrat Sherrod Brown is looking to hold on to his Senate seat in what’s likely to be a tight race that could make or break control of the chamber. There’s also an open seat on the state’s Supreme Court that could lead to Republicans losing their majority. Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters talks about what’s at stake there this election cycle.
  • And in headlines: Trump said he can’t pay the $454 million bond he owes in his New York civil fraud case, the U.S. Supreme Court seemed likely to reject a Republican-led effort to limit communication between the federal government and social media companies over disinformation on their platform, and the creators of the horror film “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” unveiled plans for a crossover called “Poohniverse: Monsters Assemble.”


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Tuesday, March 19th, I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What a Day, the pod that’s glad Jo-Ann fabrics will keep stores open despite filing for bankruptcy yesterday. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But, Joanne, I am so sorry. It’s all my fault that you are low on cash. I used too many coupons to buy tassels. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Tassels and ribbon from Joanne’s will be my memoir title. [laughter] That’s where my story starts and ends, to be honest. [music break] On today’s show, after months of warning, officials say famine is imminent in Gaza. Plus a Crooked exclusive, California congresswoman Katie Porter says that she did not mean to claim the Senate election she lost was, quote, “rigged.” 


[clip of Katie Porter] I wish I had chosen a different word. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Same sis. I also wish you would have chosen a different word. But first, Ohio is one of five states going to the polls today to vote in their primary. And yes, we know that the presidential nominations are a lock guaranteeing a Biden Trump runoff this November. But in Ohio, there’s a lot going on that we should be paying attention to. There’s an open seat for the state’s Supreme Court, and the outcome could flip it away from Republican control. Plus, there’s another race that could be key for Democrats keeping their majority in the US Senate. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Okay. We will talk about that state Supreme Court race and more in just a bit. But tell us more first about that Senate race and how tight it could be. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So we are looking at the seat that Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown currently holds. He’s running uncontested for the Democratic nomination, while three Republican candidates are vying to be his opponent. Now Brown won his most recent reelection in 2018, defeating his opponent by almost seven percentage points. But then two years later, Ohio voted for then President Trump by eight points. So you can see a little bit of splitting the party going on here. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I wanted to get a little bit of clarity on what’s at stake in Ohio today and beyond. So I sat down earlier with Liz Walters. She’s the chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, and I started by asking her if Senator Brown has what it takes to keep his seat this November. 


Liz Walters: We know that no matter who comes kind of rolling out of the gutter when this whole thing is over, that the Senator, Sherrod Brown, is going to have what it takes to beat them. All three of these guys support a national abortion ban. They all do not support raising the minimum wage. They all have a long track record of being bad for workers, either through their roles in government or in the private sector. And so we know a leader like Sherrod is going to have what it takes. And we also know that because of our state Supreme Court races, this issue of abortion is going to be a really important conversation here in Ohio in 2024. That will matter in a big way for the Senate race, but also for our Supreme Court candidates and races up and down the ticket. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. You just mentioned the state Supreme Court race in Ohio this year. As I understand it, Ohio is the only state in the country that has the chance to flip its Supreme Court this particular cycle. Can you talk us through a little bit more about that race and what issues you see at stake here for Democrats? 


Liz Walters: Absolutely. Um. So in Ohio, we currently have  a 3-4 court. There are three Democrats and four Republicans on the court. This year we’re protecting two Democratic incumbents, Justice Mike Donnelly, who won his race in 2018 by 22 points, and Justice Melody Stewart, who is the first African-American woman to win statewide in Ohio. We want her to be the first African-American to win reelection in Ohio statewide. And then we have a third candidate, Lisa Forbes, who’s an incumbent judge with a ton of experience. They are all laser focused on taking politics off the bench, bringing justice, equality and adherence to the rule of law back to the Ohio Supreme Court. And this couldn’t be more important in a year where we know that our Republican attorney general is already talking about fighting the will of the people in the abortion amendment we passed last year, where we know the court has failed to stand up to really rampant corruption in our state legislature and where the courts going to play such a pivotal role on democracy issues like voting rights, gerrymandering, and a whole litany of things that really matter, for us to have a firewall against the extremism in our state legislature. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. And as we think, you know, beyond just Ohio state politics to the national race, we know that Ohio has a long history, right? As an ultra competitive swing state, Obama won twice in 2008 and 2012. Lately, it feels like it might be veering to the right. Trump won it in 2016 and 2020. How should we be thinking about Ohio this year in particular, and what do you think Democrats can do? What are you all doing to win it back? 


Liz Walters: Yeah, listen, Ohio is back on the map. We know that based on our work in ’22, but more importantly, in 2023. When you take away gerrymandered districts, when you make these fights fair, we are winning on the issues that matter most to Ohio voters. We defended our state democracy by double digits. We enshrined abortion rights in Ohio by double digits. We legalized marijuana by double digits all in the same six month period. So we know that Ohio voters are with us on the issues and what we have been working hard at, at the Ohio Democratic Party, is to invest heavily in year round organizing. We launched our county action network to ensure that we continue to build on our 2023 victories across the state. We know that abortion and fair maps and better pay for workers is on the ballot. So we’re going to go all in on making sure Ohioans can rely not only on our organizing structure, but on important government institutions like our senator, like our Supreme Court, to be the ones who fight and stand up for their rights. And so heading into this year, I think folks just need to remember that every state can be competitive. And here in Ohio, we’ve been working hard to put the structures in place to make that real, both last year, but especially this year when we need to protect Senator Brown and make sure we take the majority in the House and flip our court at the state level. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, obviously, with the election ongoing, getting in touch, making sure that, like, the messaging is like getting to working class voters in particular is super important. If the Biden administration, if President Biden himself asked you for a piece of advice on how to reach working class voters in Ohio this year, what would you tell him? 


Liz Walters: I think the incredible thing to remember about what’s happening in Ohio is that we are doing the work right. We have a record to run on, and whether that’s the Intel plant that is coming to Ohio to ensure that we are manufacturing chips here in our country, or the work that we are seeing Senator Brown do in the U.S. Senate every day to make groceries more affordable, to cap insulin, to make sure that families have what they need to survive day to day, to protect veterans, to protect pensions. The record is there. We’ve just got to go tell the story. And that’s where good organizing, where having good volunteers who go out and talk to their neighbors and friends and family about not only what’s at stake this year during the election, but about Democratic accomplishments. The leadership of Senator Brown and all of our Democrats is really going to make the difference, I think, when it comes down in November. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Josie, that was my conversation with Liz Walters, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party. We’re going to link to more resources from the Ohio Democrats in our show notes. And of course, don’t forget to head to VoteSaveAmerica.com to learn more about how you can get involved in the fight to make Ohio Blue. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Thanks, Tre’vell. We’re now going to give an update on the Middle East. On Monday, United Nations officials warned in a new report that famine in the Gaza Strip is, quote, “imminent.” As Arif Husain, chief economist of the World Food Program, told Reuters, the window is shutting and it is shutting very, very fast. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now, this has been a possibility for some time in Gaza. Josie, we’ve heard previously that the area could face famine. But what’s different about now? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, like you said, the possibility of famine has been present for some time. U.N. officials warned of the quote, “risk of famine” back in December. And in February, they said one fourth of the population was, quote, “one step away from famine.” But now the situation has gotten even more dire as officials warn that famine is imminent in the region. In this new report, they say it could happen in northern Gaza by May and be more widespread by July. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So that’s a little over a month from now. Can you tell us a little bit more context about what this means when we hear imminent famine? It’s obviously a devastating situation, but how do they actually go about determining what a famine is? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s actually a very technical term, and it’s defined by the UN’s research agency, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or the IPC. And famine is the highest phase of food insecurity. And it occurs when 20% of households in a designated place face an extreme lack of food, and 30% of children in that place suffer from acute malnutrition. And during a famine, four children out of every 10,000 die each day due to starvation. So it’s actually a relatively rare determination. It’s only been declared twice by the UN in the past 13 years, in Somalia in 2011 and parts of South Sudan in 2017. And now the UN is saying, look, we’re approaching this really, really quickly in Gaza and things have gotten much worse since the initial reports of the possibility of famine back in December. The most recent U.N. study found that the number of people projected to experience, quote, “catastrophic hunger across Gaza by July had doubled to over one million.” And that’s about half the population. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So what would need to happen now in order to avoid famine? Is that even possible at this rate? 


Josie Duffy Rice: One thing that would be absolutely necessary to avoid famine is road access to distribute aid. And the Israeli military has largely made that pretty difficult until this point. The UN has said that this is the only way to get enough aid to the populations that require it. And in a statement last week, U.N. World Food Program Chief Cindy McCain, yes, that Cindy McCain, said, quote, “we need 300 trucks of food entering Gaza every single day. But another U.N. official told CNN that on average, just over 100 trucks reach Gaza each day between February 24th and March 3rd. And so that’s just over one third of the aid necessary. So, as you can imagine, there is really, really no time to waste here. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Literally no time to waste. I know there’s been some movement on ceasefire talks. Maybe that will get aid into the area sooner. Where do those stand? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So Israeli officials arrived last night in Qatar, and a meeting was held between the Israelis, Egyptian officials and the prime minister of Qatar. And both Reuters and Axios cited unnamed sources and reported that Israel is offering a six week ceasefire in Gaza in exchange for the freedom of 40 hostages. However, this stage of negotiations is expected to last about two weeks, so we will keep you posted. That is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads. [music break]




Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Donald Trump’s lawyers said yesterday that the former president cannot afford to pay the $454 million bond he owes in his civil fraud case. Of course he can’t. We knew that, but thanks for confirming it lawyers. A New York judge ruled last month that Trump must pay the hefty penalty for inflating his net worth to defraud banks and insurers in the state. Trump appealed the ruling in hopes of delaying payment, and the appeals court has yet to rule. But regardless of the decision, his bond is due in less than a week. Trump’s lawyer said in a legal filing on Monday that the former president faces, quote, “insurmountable difficulties coming up with the cash.” According to them, Trump has even approached 30 different companies, asking them to bail him out if his appeal fails. But he is so broke that he can’t offer them any collateral in exchange. If Trump can’t figure something out by next week’s deadline. The state of New York could freeze some of his accounts and assets until the bond is paid. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before we see a GoFundMe link going around, by which I mean a campaign fundraising email from Trump. So stay on guard, people. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I want to make fun of him for this. But at the same time, I don’t have $454 million. So who among us? [laughter]


Tre’vell Anderson: He’s just like us Josie.


Josie Duffy Rice: He’s just like us. Stars, they’re just like us. The Supreme Court was busy, busy, busy yesterday. First, it seemed likely to reject a Republican led effort to limit communication between the federal government and social media companies over disinformation on their platforms. That was the takeaway from oral arguments on Monday. The justices heard a case brought by Louisiana and Missouri, who accused the Biden administration of violating the First Amendment by pressuring social media companies to remove posts containing misinformation about Covid and election fraud. Here’s Justice Amy Coney Barrett questioning Louisiana Solicitor General Benjamin Aguiñaga. 


[clip of Benjamin Aguiñaga] I think one potential mechanism is coercion. Another one’s encouragement. This court also has used the term induced– 


[clip of Justice Amy Coney Barrett] Just plain vanilla encouragement? Or does it have to be some kind of like significant encouragement? Because encouragement would sweep in an awful lot. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The High Court will issue its ruling on this case by the end of June. Also on Monday, the court rejected an appeal from a convicted January 6th insurrectionist. Couy Griffin was removed from his seat as a New Mexico County commissioner under the Constitution’s insurrection clause in 2022. State courts removed him after he was convicted of a misdemeanor for entering the Capitol grounds on January 6th. Griffin wanted the Supreme Court to overturn his disqualification. It’s the court’s first decision related to the Insurrection Clause since it overturned a Colorado Supreme Court decision to bar Trump from the state’s primary ballot. In that decision, the court said, quote, “States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office.” But that power did not extend to federal office, especially the presidency. And on the subject of insurrectionists, the court also declined to delay prison time for former Trump adviser Peter Navarro. He’s scheduled to report to federal prison in Miami today. 


Tre’vell Anderson: California Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter sat down with our friends over at Pod Save America. It was her first interview since losing her bid for Senate earlier this month. 


[clip of Katie Porter] Overall, of course, that was a disappointing result. Um. But I’m glad I did it. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Porter finished third in California’s March primary, behind fellow Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff and former professional baseball player Steve Garvey, who’s a Republican. In California, the top two finishers in the primary move on to the general election in November, regardless of party. After failing to finish in the top two, Porter said on X that the election was rigged by billionaires and special interest groups that spent against her. Rigged is, of course, a loaded word, given former President Donald Trump’s repeated and patently false use of the word after he lost the 2020 election. Porter defended the sentiment of her tweet to the Pod Save America guys, but said she should have phrased it differently. 


[clip of Katie Porter] I wish I had chosen a different word because what happened with the controversy was it took away from two really important truths. One, our California election officials do a terrific job. The second truth that is really important, that got lost in all of that is that big money does influence our elections. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You can hear more of Porter’s interview with Pod Save America on the latest episode, out now. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Chicago goes to the polls for the primaries today, and the people will vote on an ambitious plan to fund homeless programs. Called Bring Chicago Home, the referendum would raise taxes on properties that sell for over one million dollars. Supporters say it would bring in at least $100 million each year for shelter beds, permanent affordable housing and more. The money would also be used to help the over 11,000 migrants still in the city, after Republicans in states like Texas started to bus them to Chicago in 2022. If the referendum passes, the final version will still have to be approved by the city council and the mayor. Then it would go into effect on January 1st of next year. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And finally move over Marvel. There’s a new cinematic universe in town. The creators of the horror movie Winnie the Pooh, Blood and Honey, announced yesterday that they’re working on a sequel that puts a gory twist on more children’s storybook characters called Poohniverse: Monsters Assemble. You’ll remember that we talked about Blood and Honey on the show last year. That’s the independent horror movie that casts Winnie the Pooh and Piglet as slashers who are out for Christopher Robin’s blood. The companies behind the project rushed to make the movie after the Winnie the Pooh franchise fell into the public domain last year, and it was apparently so bad that it won five Razzie Awards earlier this month, including the award for Worst Picture. Still, the franchise is set to release more movies featuring other beloved characters that come together to create the twisted childhood universe, or TCU for short. There is a Blood and Honey sequel that drops next week, in case you were wondering. And according to producers, Poohniverse: Monsters Assemble will feature Bambi, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and Sleeping Beauty alongside Winnie and Friends in 2025. I would just like to know for film history sake. Okay. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Winnie the Pooh blood in Honey won five Razzies. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Uh huh. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Including Worst Picture. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Uh huh. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Another movie that won Worst Picture back in the early 2000s. Catwoman. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Also Gigli.


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, I think that history is currently on the side of Halle Berry’s Catwoman, and so who knows, maybe the slasher Winnie the Pooh is better than we actually think. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Maybe. [laughter] What else has won worse picture at the Razzies? [laughter] Let’s just see what we’re working with. So other than that, we have 50 Shades of Gray, the Emoji Movie. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Cats, 2019 Cats. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm. Cats. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Horrible film. [laughter] just among the worst. Look, Winnie the Pooh. Not scary, but all the other ones. Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, even Bambi. You can see how those are horror movies. Scary Pinocchio I’m into. Pinocchio is inherently scary. There’s a whale. There’s the carnival with the cigars. There’s a talking puppet. It’s made for horror. 




Josie Duffy Rice: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Trump, start a GoFundMe and tell your friends to listen. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just tassels like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


[spoken together] See you in the ribbon aisle at Joanne Fabrics. 


Tre’vell Anderson: There’s just so many options. 


Josie Duffy Rice: There’s so many options. Like the prettiest ribbon you’ve ever seen. [laughter] [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters and Julia Claire, and our showrunner is Leo Duran. Adriene Hill is our executive producer. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.