COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two of Ohio’s winningest politicians did it again Tuesday, as Republican Mike DeWine won the governorship and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won a third term in what was an otherwise third consecutive strong statewide election for Republicans.
Brown, first elected to an Ohio office in 1974, defeated fourth-term U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci. DeWine, who began winning elections later in the 1970s, turned back Democrat Richard Cordray, President Barack Obama’s appointee as federal consumer protection chief.
DeWine won a rematch of the 2010 election when he narrowly ousted Cordray to become attorney general. DeWine is a former U.S. senator, congressman and lieutenant governor, among other positions.
DeWine kept the governorship Republican with incumbent Gov. John Kasich term-limited, and Republicans also won statewide races to keep the secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and auditor for the GOP.
Brown called his victory proof that “progressives can win — and win decisively — in the heartland.” Brown, criticized as voting like “a Hollywood liberal” by Renacci, has agreed on Trump’s moves to toughen trade agreements. But his victory speech made clear that he disapproves of the president’s rhetoric and other policies.
“We do not appeal to some by pushing down others,” Brown said. “We do not lie. We do not engage in hate speech. And we do not rip babies from their families at the border.”
He said populists aren’t racists or anti-Semitic. Brown unseated DeWine in 2006.
Republican Donald Trump had a decisive 8-point victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Trump returned to the state Monday to try to lift DeWine and other Republicans.
Some voters in Ohio said Trump was a factor when casting their Election Day ballots.
Kevin Benson, a 38-year-old graphic designer from Westerville in central Ohio, said he’s registered a Republican, considers himself an independent, and voted all Democrat on his polling place on Tuesday, mostly because of Trump.
“I’m frustrated with the way he’s acting, plus just Republicans in general … I’m just kind of dissatisfied across the board with them,” he said.
Grant Stitzlein, a 30-year-old registered Republican who works for FedEx Freight, said he did what Trump said when voting in the Columbus suburb of Dublin.
“We’re trying to make America great again, so I’m out here voting for the Republicans,” he said.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office says more than 1.3 million people voted ahead of Tuesday’s election, far outpacing the number of votes cast early statewide four years ago. Officials say that through Monday, nearly 885,000 absentee ballots had been received by mail statewide and that 430,000 people voted early in person. That compares with around 719,000 people mailing in ballots in 2014 and 146,000 people voting early in person, for a total of about 865,000.
Around 8 million Ohioans are registered to vote.
Sam Rossi, a spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, said there had been no major problems reported in the state.
A woman who during the 2016 presidential election accused Donald Trump of sexually harassing her more than a decade ago lost her bid for a seat in Ohio’s legislature. Democrat Rachel Crooks lost to incumbent Republican state Rep. Bill Reineke in her first attempt at a public office.
Republicans maintained the 12-4 U.S. House delegation lead they’ve held since GOP-dominating redistricting for 2012.
In central Ohio’s 12th district, Republican Troy Balderson won his rematch with Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor after becoming congressman after an August special election. In southwest Ohio’s 1st District, Democrat Aftab Pureval ran a well-funded, high-profile race against Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, but Chabot held him off to win his 12th term. Chabot got a late campaign boost from Trump’s visit to the district Oct. 12.
Associated Press writers Kantele Franko in Columbus, Angie Wang in Columbus, Mark Gillispie in Cleveland and Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.