The year 2012 can be accurately described as running hurriedly in place. National elections dominated the headlines, but state and local matters fit this description, as well.
On the national level, billions of dollars were spent on elections only for the end result to practically be the status quo. President Obama is still president, Democrats still hold the Senate, and Republicans still control the House. Democrats maintain their hold on several policy victories from the past four years while Republicans feel the country is still racing toward fiscal calamity.
At the state level, Ohio had minimal movement. Electorally, the Assembly looks much like it did before.
The state rejected sweeping changes to the way it apportions electoral districts. Republicans in the Assembly repealed their own elections law. Right-to-work advocates abandoned a ballot initiative that had popular support for fear of provoking a labor-left backlash that might have affected the presidential race, which, as it turned out, would have been irrelevant.
Locally, most of the familiar faces remain in federal, state, and county government. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Mike Turner, State Sen. Peggy Lehner, State Reps. Roland Winburn, Jim Butler, Terry Blair, and Mike Henne will all return to their current jobs in 2013.
One major local change will be the disappearance of Rep. Steve Austria, who opted not to run for reelection after his district was cut up and largely combined with Rep. Turner’s. Another notable story of the year was State Rep. Clayton Luckie, whose story is still developing. He opted not to run for reelection after it became evident he would face criminal charges.
So at the end of the day, despite polls showing widespread discontent with the current state of the nation, voters frantically opted for no change at all. Despite economic conditions that dictated change at the top, and after spending ungodly sums of cash, walking door-to-door, making phone call after phone call, painting towns with campaign signs, and watching hours of TV ads, the prevailing political balance remains. Democrats appear to have some momentum, but the degree to which they have any sort of mandate at all is debatable.
As 2013 dawns, the Year of Standing Pat ends with the potential for major changes in the near future. Gun control legislation will likely use up a ton of political capital with much of the rest going toward tax debates. The tax issue—which will involve not only income, capital gains, and corporate taxes but also new taxes from the Affordable Care Act—may move to the forefront depending on what happens in the economy. At any rate, 2013 figures to have a radically different feel than 2012.