Ohioans get final say after hotly contested campaigns



Thomas J. Sheeran

CLEVELAND (AP) President Barack Obama headed toward his second term Wednesday after again winning Ohio, where both he and Republican Mitt Romney had dedicated major time and resources to woo voters.

Democrats got a second victory in Ohio’s hotly contested U.S. Senate campaign as incumbent Sherrod Brown defeated GOP challenger Josh Mandel, the state treasurer, despite an onslaught of attacks from conservative outside groups.

Two first-term congressional Republicans won re-election, and a heavily favored Democratic candidate in central Ohio captured a new U.S. House seat. In other races, Republicans kept control of the state Legislature and challengers unseated two Ohio Supreme Court justices.

There were long lines and heavy turnout in some areas but few Election Day problems reported in the swing state after months of seemingly nonstop campaign visits and ads, much of it for the race to the White House.

In suburban Cleveland, Collette Krantz, 82, said health care was the top issue on her mind as she voted for Obama at a college community in Berea. She wondered what to expect, especially on health care, from a Romney administration.

“I think under Romney there would be many changes,” she said. “We truly don’t know what the heck they are about.”

Christine McCauley, a 46-year-old Democrat who voted for Romney, said she isn’t satisfied with the economy.

“I still think it’s stagnant,” said McCauley, a stay-at-home mom from Berea. “I think it hurts household values, it hurts education, it hurts everybody more when you have people not working.”

Obama’s bailout of the auto industry was popular with Ohio voters, with most saying they approved of the decision. Voters looking for a strong leader and someone who shared their values went with Romney, according to preliminary exit poll results.

Matt Wieczorek, a 25-year-old elementary school science teacher who voted Tuesday morning, said he’s a registered Republican but voted for Obama. He said he thinks the president is a better choice to keep education and the economy moving forward.

“We have seen growth in the economy, maybe not as fast as we want it to be, but Obama has made a difference, and I don’t want to see that growth come to an end,” Wieczorek said.

Republican congressmen won second terms in the state’s two hotly contested U.S. House races. Rep. Jim Renacci won a costly battle of incumbents in northeast Ohio to oust Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton, whose district was eliminated under redrawn political maps. In a rematch, Rep. Bill Johnson defeated former U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson in eastern Ohio.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner also won re-election. In other races, former Democratic state Rep. Joyce Beatty was elected in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, and Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur beat Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher, the man who became known as Joe the Plumber during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Republicans secured enough seats to maintain their control in each chamber of the Ohio Legislature, according to unofficial results.

Democrats will have one of their biggest supporters back at the Statehouse next year after Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern won a House seat in northern Ohio.

The Ohio Supreme Court will have new faces, too, but the same makeup politically. Republican Sharon Kennedy, a Butler County domestic relations judge, unseated the lone Democrat, Justice Yvette McGee Brown, in a bid to serve an unexpired term through 2014. The court’s new Democrat will be William O’Neill, a retired appeals court judge from Cleveland who beat Republican Justice Robert Cupp, of Lima.

Republican Justice Terrence O’Donnell, of Cleveland, defeated Democratic state Sen. Mike Skindell to keep his seat.

Ohioans rejected the two statewide issues on the ballot.

Issue 2 proposed that a 12-member commission of residents redraw congressional and legislative maps. Issue 1 asked voters if they’d like an Ohio Constitution convention to make changes.