Ohio voters set governor matchup, OK map-making changes


By JULIE CARR SMYTH - Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — 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. Issue 1 won 75 percent of the statewide vote.

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.

Four-term Republican state Rep. Robert Sprague, of Findlay, won the GOP primary for state treasurer over former Ashtabula County Auditor Sandra O’Brien. He and former University of Cincinnati board chairman Rob Richardson Jr., a Democrat, will face off in November for the seat held by term-limited GOP Treasurer Josh Mandel.

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.

Republican Troy Balderson, a state senator backed by former U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, will face off for the retired congressman’s old seat against Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor, who prevailed in a crowded primary. Balderson beat rival Melanie Leneghan, despite her receiving help from U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan. Jordan, of Urbana, said Leneghan was the best choice to advance Trump’s agenda in Washington.

Former Ohio State University football star Anthony Gonzalez won the Republican nomination to succeed Renacci in Ohio’s U.S. House District 16 in a three-way primary where the other candidates aligned themselves with Trump.

In central Ohio, political newcomer Rick Neal, a former international relief worker backed by Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers.

By JULIE CARR SMYTH

Associated Press

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