The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Election news

November 2, 2010

Republican holds edge in Ohio governor race

JEFFERSON — On an evening dominated by GOP victories, Republican John Kasich was leading an Ohio governor’s race that will determine control of a critical swing state in 2012’s presidential race.

The 58-year-old former congressman’s edge over Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland was being fueled by support among voters in dozens of rural and suburban counties where the two men campaigned hard in the final weeks of the closely watched race.

Strickland, 69, a former congressman from Appalachia, had clinched victories in a swath of counties in the southeastern Ohio foothills, including his home county of Scioto.

A host of Strickland’s fellow Democrats fell to defeat, including U.S. Reps. Zack Space and John Boccieri, and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who lost a race for U.S. Senate. Democrats also lost control of the Ohio House that they’d held for two years.

The winner will also sit on the powerful apportionment board, which draws state legislative districts that will hold for the next 10 years. The governor also gets a sign-off on congressional districts that will be drawn by the state Legislature that Tuesday’s elections handed to Republicans.

Ohio is viewed as a state the GOP must-win if they have a shot at ousting President Barack Obama from the White House in two years, and a state Obama needs to clinch as his support erodes more deeply in other parts of the country.

But it remained undetermined late into the evening whether the once-popular governor could pull out a win. Neither he nor Kasich had secured more than 50 percent of the vote throughout most of the evening, raising the possibility that the contest could end within a margin worthy of a legal challenge.

The pair broke a fundraising record with more than $30 million in contributions — and that amount was compounded by big spending by the Republican and Democratic governors associations, unions and business groups. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce broke a 117-year tradition and endorsed Kasich, a former managing director at Lehman Brothers, in the race.

Their campaign centered on who could do a better job tackling the state’s high unemployment and looming $8 billion budget deficit.

Kasich, a frequent face on Fox News, attacked Strickland over the loss of 400,000 jobs. He fought back Strickland’s attacks on his record at Lehman, the failed investment bank, with promises to bring a more business-minded approach to the state’s economy.

The Democratic governor, meanwhile, pointed to national economic factors as the culprit in the state’s economic hard times. Both he and Fisher sought a two-pronged strategy at times against Kasich and former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, who won Tuesday’s Senate race, over Republican outsourcing and trade policies that exit polls showed failed to stick with voters.

Strickland, an ordained minister and psychologist, touted to voters his efforts to curb college tuition, expand health care access for children and rewrite Ohio’s unconstitutional school-funding system. He said education is the key to Ohio’s economic future.

Kasich stumped on a message of smaller government, tax cuts, and reduced business regulations. He has proposed eventually eliminating the state income tax, which make up about 40 percent of the state budget and replacing the Ohio Department of Development with a nonprofit board of business leaders.


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