COLUMBUS — Ohio voters set up a matchup Tuesday between Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray in the fall governor’s race, picked a Trump-backed U.S. Senate candidate and approved a ballot issue creating new rules for drawing congressional districts.
Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, said approval of Issue 1 after decades of attempts was a victory for the entire state.
“Fair congressional districts mean everybody wins,” she said, crediting a broad, bipartisan coalition and enthusiastic volunteers for the win.
The new rules, which will take effect with 2021 maps, were modeled after new map-making rules for Ohio legislative districts that Ohio voters strongly supported in 2016.
Aimed at curbing partisan gerrymandering, they will limit how counties are split into multiple districts and require more support from the minority party to put a 10-year map in place.
If lawmakers can’t agree, an existing bipartisan commission will take over. If that fails, the majority party can pass a shorter-term map.
In the race for governor , DeWine prevailed over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor after a markedly nasty primary campaign in which she called him a “phony conservative” and he called her unqualified.
Cordray, a former consumer watchdog appointed by President Barack Obama, won the Democratic nomination after an unusually tough fight by former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who ran to his left on an anti-gun, pro-environment platform.
Both men have run for the same seats before. DeWine ousted Cordray from the attorney general’s seat in a close contest in 2010. In 2000, Cordray lost a four-way Democratic primary for DeWine’s Senate seat.
In the Republican Senate primary, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, of Wadsworth, won the GOP nod to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown this fall.
Renacci had the backing of President Donald Trump ahead of Tuesday’s five-way contest. Also in the race was Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons and three others.
Ohio voters also decided a host of unusually competitive congressional and state legislative seats.
Absentee voting was up compared with the same time in the 2014 midterm election, the secretary of state’s office said.
Issue 1 passes
State Issue 1 to create a bipartisan, public process for drawing congressional districts passed by nearly a 3-1 margin.