This Ohio Democrat Is Running on Tax Cuts. Her Record Indicates Tax Hikes Are More Her Style.

Democratic Ohio congressional candidate Emilia Sykes
September 26, 2022

Democrat Emilia Sykes wants voters to think she's a consensus builder who worked with Republicans in the Ohio state House to cut taxes. In reality, she voted against bipartisan tax cut bills at least three times and helped hike the state's gas tax once.

In Sykes's latest televised ad for her House campaign in Ohio's 13th district, she touts her success working "with both parties to raise pay … and cut taxes." Sykes then cites a singular vote on a 2019 budget that lowered the state income tax.

But since entering office in 2015, Sykes has mostly opposed bipartisan tax cuts. A Washington Free Beacon review of legislative records found that Sykes voted against lowering the state's income tax at least three times, with her most recent "No" vote cast in 2021.

Sykes also voted to hike the state's gas and diesel tax in 2019. That bill, which passed despite bipartisan opposition, hiked the gas tax by over 38 percent and the diesel tax by over 71 percent.

Sykes is not alone in fudging her record. Democrats across the country facing tough elections in November are desperately trying to shed their party label and convince voters they will be nonpartisan lawmakers, rather than a rubber stamp for party leadership.

But that pitch is a hard sell for Sykes and other Ohio Democrats such as Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan, who represents the 13th district, particularly in a state that overwhelmingly supported former president Donald Trump in 2020. Despite holding higher-office ambitions in purple states, both candidates have spent much of their political careers voting as rank-and-file Democrats.

Sykes is considered a top recruit by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Sykes comes from a wealthy political family that once filed a lawsuit after she lost a beauty pageant. The Free Beacon reported on the lawsuit, which included claims from the Sykes family that the ordeal resulted in at least $75,000 in damages due to psychological distress.

Sykes did not respond to a request for comment.

Every tax cut bill Sykes opposed received bipartisan support. In 2015, she voted against legislation to reduce Ohio's income tax to its lowest rate in over three decades.

That bill passed, earning the votes of two Democrats in the state House and one Democrat in the state Senate. Two years later, Sykes voted against another tax bill that reduced personal income tax rates and brackets. One state Senate Democrat voted for its passage.

Sykes also did not join her 23 Democratic state House colleagues in supporting a nearly $2 billion tax cut for Ohio residents in 2021. The bill also included tax refunds for residents who worked remotely in 2021 but still paid municipal taxes in localities at which their offices were located.

The nonpartisan Tax Foundation applauded the bill as "rectifying the problematic taxation of nonresidents during the pandemic." The group added that, prior to the bill's passage, Ohio was "taxing people in places in which they no longer work." Those provisions and others, including increased funding for child care and broadband internet, brought onboard every Democratic state senator but one.

Sykes will face off in November against conservative commentator and former Miss Ohio Madison Gesiotto Gilbert. While the Cook Political Report considers the race a tossup, a May survey of voters in the district found Gesiotto Gilbert leading by 9 points.