Ohio: GOP retains control of state House, Senate

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS (AP) —Republicans retained their supermajority in the Ohio House, despite Democrats’ hopes that strong candidates and national momentum would help them cut into GOP legislative majorities.

House Republicans had secured at least 64 of 99 House seats, more than the 60 votes needed to flex powers like overriding vetoes and more easily placing constitutional amendments before voters. Democrats picked up three Republican seats, while Republicans took one held by a Democrat.

With Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine also retaining the party’s control of the governor’s office, outnumbered Democrats will continue to have little sway over state law-making.

Republicans, as expected, also retained control of the Ohio Senate.

No to Issue 1

Voters rejected an Ohio constitutional amendment to make possession of all types of drugs misdemeanors in an effort to reduce the state prison population and divert savings to drug treatment.

Most judicial and law enforcement groups opposed the measure known as Issue 1. And it became a point of debate in the Ohio governor’s race, with Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine opposed and Democratic candidate Richard Cordray supporting it.

Supporters argued Issue 1 would have saved tens of millions of dollars in prison costs, money that would be dedicated not only to drug treatment but to crime victim programs, as well.

Opponents balked at the prospect of basically decriminalizing possession of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid blamed for thousands of overdose deaths in Ohio.

DeWine wins

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine defeated Obama-era consumer protection chief Richard Cordray in the race for Ohio governor.

The 71-year-old DeWine’s win over Cordray on Tuesday puts him in an influential position as a key swing state draws new legislative and congressional maps and makes its 2020 pick for president.

The takeaway for Republican President Donald Trump is unclear. The victory comes after DeWine’s 11th hour embrace of both Republican President Donald Trump and GOP Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a key detractor.

DeWine walked a careful line on the president, choosing instead to tout his own long record of public service, including as lieutenant governor, congressman and U.S. senator.

Former President Barack Obama campaigned for Cordray and other Democrats, arguing Democratic wins were needed as a check and balance on Congress and the White House.

Brown retained

A Democratic U.S. senator who’s in his fifth decade of Ohio politics was elected to a third term.

Sherrod Brown on Tuesday defeated fourth-term U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who dropped a governor’s bid to run for Senate at Trump’s urging.

The 65-year-old Brown won his first election to the state’s House in 1974 and unseated Republican Sen. Mike DeWine in 2006. With a history of blue-collar appeal and union support, Brown has backed Trump moves on steel tariffs and renegotiating trade agreements.

The 59-year-old Renacci, a businessman, called Brown a liberal out of touch with Ohio values.

Judge races

Democrats won both Ohio Supreme Court seats up for election, cutting into total GOP control of the court.

Tuesday’s election results show that Democratic challenger Judge Melody Stewart, a Cleveland appeals court judge, defeated Republican incumbent Justice Mary DeGenaro, of suburban Youngstown, on Tuesday. DeGenaro was appointed by Gov. John Kasich earlier this year.

In the court’s open race, Democrat Judge Michael Donnelly, of Cleveland, beat GOP appeals court Judge Craig Baldwin, of Newark.

The winners join five GOP justices on the state high court and along with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown were the only Democrats winning statewide races.

Faber wins

Republican state Rep. Keith Faber was elected Ohio auditor, defeating former U.S. Rep. Zack Space on Tuesday to lead the staff that audits thousands of public offices, including cities, state agencies and schools.

Faber, a 52-year-old lawyer from Celina, has advocated additional performance audits to boost government efficiency and cost savings.

Faber argued against using the role for political purposes after Space suggested the office could review how Ohio has been affected by trade deals and the saga of its largest online charter school, the now-defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

During the campaign, both men faced questions about tax payment problems. Space’s campaign cited administrative errors for two tax penalties in his past. A bookkeeper took responsibility for tardy tax payments tied to Faber.

Faber succeeds two-term Republican Dave Yost.

LaRose picked

Republican Sen. Frank LaRose won the race for Ohio Secretary of State.

He defeated Democrat Kathleen Clyde, a state representative from Kent.

The 39-year-old LaRose will replace Secretary of State Jon Husted, who ran on the Republican ticket for governor.

LaRose has been in the state Senate since 2011 and before that served in the U.S. Army Special Forces.

He has said in recent interviews he wants to change how the state aggressively trims its voter rolls by targeting people who haven’t voted in a while.

But he also supports the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld Ohio’s methods of pruning voters in a case closely watched around the nation.

LaRose also has backed efforts to replace aging voting machines in Ohio.

Ohio AG

Ohio’s Republican state Auditor Dave Yost defeated a former Democratic federal prosecutor to become the state’s next attorney general.

Yost and Democrat Steve Dettelbach traded barbs on health care, clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic church, a failed charter school and the state’s unrelenting opioid crisis during the run-up to Tuesday’s vote.

Yost campaigned on his efforts to fight public corruption in the state and to keep special interests out of the lawmaking process. Dettelbach highlighted his efforts as U.S. attorney for northern Ohio to combat human trafficking and drug trafficking.

This was Dettelbach’s first bid for elected office. He served as U.S. attorney for northern Ohio from 2009 to 2016. Before being elected state auditor in 2010, Yost served as Delaware county auditor and prosecutor.

Sprague wins

Republican state Rep. Robert Sprague was elected Ohio treasurer, defeating attorney Rob Richardson on Tuesday for the office tasked with collecting taxes and managing the state’s investment portfolio.

The 45-year-old Sprague’s platform centered on financing drug addiction treatments and improving the transparency of state spending. He has served as city auditor and treasurer in his northwest Ohio hometown of Findlay.

During the campaign, Democratic candidate Richardson faced legal questions about his handling of money. Court records show the 39-year-old attorney’s then-wife accused him of hiding money in a private account before their divorce. Richardson’s campaign said the allegation was unsubstantiated.

The state treasurer’s office managed more than $224 billion in fiscal year 2017, including an investment portfolio of more than $21.5 billion.

Sprague succeeds two-term Republican Josh Mandel, who is term-limited.


The Associated Press