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Notes on the Ohio Primary Election Results

Because we had a primary election yesterday (here are a link to the results, from the Columbus Dispatch), and I have notes:

1. The big news, such as it is, is that Trump-supported JD Vance won the GOP primary for US Senate, beating Josh Mandel and Matt Dolan, who were his immediate runners-up, and a field of four other candidates. JD Vance has revealed himself to be a craven sycophantic remora enthusiastically attached to Trump’s sphincter, and is apparently happy to toss democracy aside for his own personal advancement, so you might be surprised when I tell you that his winning was only the second worst option in the GOP primary, since Josh Mandel is all those things and more, and has been at it longer than Vance, of whom it can be said that at least he is an arriviste when it comes ambitious culture war neo-fascism, whereas Mandel has been there for a while.

What would have been interesting is what would have happened had Trump not opened his yap and endorsed Vance (well, sort of; it’s pretty clear that Trump has only the vaguest idea of who he endorsed and why, even when that candidate is on the same stage). I suspect that Josh Mandel might have squeaked out the nomination, which is appalling, but well, that’s where the Ohio GOP is today.

The one mild surprise is that Matt Dolan, whose brand was “Trump ain’t all that” nearly edged out Mandel for second place. Dolan actually won three counties in Ohio, the ones Columbus and Cleveland are in, and the county next to Cleveland filled with well-off liberals and Democrats, which suggests a non-trivial number of people voting for him were, in fact, actual liberals/Democrats — Ohio allows you to choose at the polling station which primary ballot you wish to fill out (Democratic, Republican or non-partisan, the latter of which is usually for local initiatives or tax levies). Again, would have been interesting to see where he might have landed had Trump not inserted himself. But then, Trump was never not going to insert himself.

2. On the topic of “Liberals/Democrats strategically voting in the Republican primary,” it be at least some of the reason that the Democratic senatorial primary vote was only 48% of the GOP senate primary vote, with a very similar percentage for the gubernatorial primaries. It was also because there was far less drama involved; everyone expected Tim Ryan to win it, which he did, handily, with nearly 70% of the primary vote — Ryan in fact received more primary votes (nearly 356k) than Vance, the Republican primary winner (nearly 341k).

Is there something to be readily gleaned from these numbers, when it comes to the senatorial race in November? Maybe but possibly not. Ohio has more registered Democrats (947k) than Republicans (836k) and both of these numbers are easily swallowed by the number of unaffiliated voters (6.2m), and across the state only 18.8% of eligible voters turned out. Which means that our senatorial candidates were decided by roughly 4.4% of our electorate in both cases. So that’s great, and also leaves lots of room for things to happen in the general, in which possibly 36% of our electorate will vote.

I would not hazard a guess as to whether Ryan or Vance will win in November, because a lot will depend on the economy, whether Trump is actually arraigned on something (probably not, but one never knows), and whether the Supreme Court will follow that draft opinion and decide people with uteruses need fewer rights than those who don’t. But I can tell you that Ryan will run a campaign largely focused on the economic and and day-to-day issues that affect average Ohioans, and Vance will run a screaming, hate-filled campaign based on racism, identity politics and authoritarianism, because this is where we are in Ohio in 2022.

3. On the gubernatorial front, it’s Mike DeWine, the current governor, against Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton, and while I expect the senatorial race to be close (indeed, closer than I would like it to be given who is running and their expected platforms), I’m pretty sure DeWine is going to win this one in a walk. DeWine is generally popular (60% approval rating) and he’s old school GOP, which means he doesn’t automatically despise science or go out of his way to punish people who don’t lick his shoes. He’s not great (he happily signed punitive antiabortion laws), but he’s not actively hateful. That’ll probably work for most Ohioans. Again, anything could happen (and I won’t be voting for DeWine, personally), but unless shit gets real bad in Ohio and it can be directly traced to what DeWine’s doing, he’s probably safe.

4. Also safe: my US representative Warren Davidson, who won his primary by 40 percentage points and who faces a Democratic opponent he’s faced twice before, beating her by an at least 2:1 margin both times. OH-8 has not gone Democratic since the Depression, and 2022 is not the year that’s going to change, no matter how bad things get for Trump sycophants in the coming months. The GOP could run a wet sock in OH-8 and it would win.

5. What didn’t get voted on yesterday: Ohio House and Senate seats, since the Ohio GOP keeps trying to gerrymander the election maps despite an actual voter-approved directive not to do so, and the Ohio Supreme Court keeps calling the Ohio GOP on their shit. We’ll have to do a second primary election now, probably in August, at a cost of several millions of dollars, and it will likely have even fewer voters than yesterday’s. Hooray for democracy!

Yes, I will be voting in that one, too. I always vote. So should you.

— JS

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Big Idea

The Big Idea: Mark Matthews

Editor Mark Matthews has experience with the world of horror, and the terrors of addiction. In the anthology, Orphans of Bliss, both are explored, with the help of a host of authors who craft stories with both in mind. Here’s Matthews to get under the skin of the anthology.

MARK MATTHEWS:

Orphans of Bliss: Tales of Addiction Horror, the follow up to theShirley Jackson Award nominated, Lullabies for Suffering, is now out of the womb and breathing on its own. This is the third and final fix of ‘addiction horror’ anthologies, and as editor and a contributing writer, it’s been an exhausting, amazing, and cathartic experience.

What’s the Big Idea—Why addiction horror?

I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict, and spent years waking up needing a fix.

Now, as a substance abuse therapist, I’ve seen addiction on a daily basis.

Writing about addiction for me came natural. It’s perpetually part of my fiber. When I bleed on the page, it’s in the color of my blood. I didn’t set out to write horror, I set out to write, and as the addiction element was tapped from my veins, what came out was horror.

Horror felt the only fit, and horror tropes are apt analogies.

Imagine, someone just shot up heroin for the first time, and soon their body will be aching for more the way a vampire thirsts for blood. Someone right now is buying a half pint of vodka with shaky hands at the liquor store, trembling with terror. Parents live with children who seem as if possessed, and soon enough, identify their overdosed body at the hospital.

Truth is actually darker than fiction, and horror shines a revealing light onto the demons, the dark truths of addiction, in a manner no other genre can.

After writing my own addiction horror novels such as Milk-Blood and All Smoke Rises, the Big Idea was—What might other horror writers do with this topic?

And the addiction horror anthologies were born.

One requirement I had for inclusion in the anthologies is empathy and understanding for those who have lived with addiction. Last thing I wanted to do was stigmatize the condition, but rather, illuminate its impact and increase awareness. I wanted a deeper understanding of, and even compassion for, the sick and suffering addict. “Horror is not about extreme sadism, it’s about extreme empathy,” Joe Hill so aptly noted. Until you’ve had your mind and soul hijacked by addiction, it is difficult to comprehend. In the throes of a craving, the desire to obtain and use substances equals the life force for survival itself. Imagine yourself drowning and being told not to swim to the surface for air. Obsessions should be so mild.

Horror is a uniquely powerful genre to reveal larger truths about the world we live in. To hear about the nature of addiction in a story, putting the reader into the addict’s body, brain, and spirit as it morphs into something horrific, makes the larger crisis much more personal than simply citing a statistic. The stories inside these works, some of which include the supernatural, are true, even if they didn’t happen. More people will die of an opioid overdose in the time it takes to read the three anthologies, than actually die in the books.

While the works offer an unflinching portrayal of addiction and those it impacts, the goal is not to condemn those who use substances. God knows I wish I could join you, but I’m one of those who can’t. It’s impossible for me to drink or drug without leading to disaster. I’ve learned to live with the cravings, as so many in recovery have, and how to not feed the beast. It’s statement of the perseverance and power of the human spirit that people continue to fight, and recovery from addiction is something to celebrate.  

Horror as a genre is a testimony to this ferocity of the human spirit that faces our demons. We love Jamie Curtis from the Halloween franchise because, like her, we all have to constantly fight monsters, often from our childhood. And even if the battle is won, the war’s not over. Michael Myers gets up from the spot on the lawn, after that cathartic moment when you were sure he was dead, and he runs back to the darkness from whence he came. Like addiction, the monster is not conquered, but only in remission.

In all, there are 15 different writers spread out over the three analogies. A few writers are in all three, most are only in one.  Feels only right to name them, so pardon me this list, alphabetical by first name: Caroline Kepnes, Cassandra Khaw, Christa Carmen, Gabino Iglesias, Glen Krisch, Jack Ketchum,  Jessica McHugh, Johan Thorson,  John FD Taff, Josh Malerman, Kealan Patrick Burke, Max Booth III, Mercedes M Yardley, S.A Cosby, and Samantha Kolesnik.

Many stories are told from the perspective of family and loved ones who are impacted by addiction, rather than the substance user themselves. (and in fact, the addiction is not always just to substances.) Settings range from treatment centers, to deep space, to the rural woods, to dystopian landscapes. Many tales are as much speculative science fiction as horror.

This is my Big Idea and I hope these books bring people together through increased understanding and awareness, since there’s no better way to tell a dark truth than through a dark work of horror. Horror has the capacity to speak to this trauma in a unique fashion, and when readers journey through tales of trauma, it binds us together as if we’re part of a family, no longer living alone with our fears.


Orphans of Bliss: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

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