Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) and former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray (D) will face off this November for control of the governor’s mansion in the key swing state of Ohio. NBC, Fox News and the Associated Press projected the candidates would win their nominations at around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night.
Both candidates had the backing of their respective party’s establishments, and fended off challenges from insurgent candidates that tapped into energy from the fringes.
Democrats in the key swing state feared for months that former Cleveland mayor and firebrand congressman Dennis Kucinich — who has dismissed Russian meddling in the 2016 election, praised President Donald Trump, and aligned himself with pro-Assad Syrian groups — would win the Democratic primary only to lose the general election.
But Cordray, who had the backing of the popular Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and several major labor unions, dominated across Ohio, even in Kucinich’s home of Cuyahoga county. Kucinich had the backing of Bernie Sanders’ OurRevolution organization, though notably no endorsement from Sanders himself, and campaign on promises to enact universal health care and legalize marijuana.
DeWine, a familiar face in Ohio politics for decades, also fended off a challenge from Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who ran to his right on immigration and health care, vowing to entirely repeal Ohio’s Medicaid expansion that hundreds of thousands in the state depend on.
National Democratic groups have identified the Ohio governor’s race as one of their top target races for 2018, and have already spent millions on digital and TV ads. When news broke Tuesday night of Cordray winning the nomination, the Democratic Governor’s Association said they were confident they could flip the seat blue in November.
“Rich Cordray and Betty Sutton are the right ticket to win back Ohio,” said DGA Chairman Jay Inslee. “Rich Cordray has spent his life fighting for consumers and middle-class families against powerful interests, and that’s how he’s going to govern.”
However, putting a damper on hopes for a so-called “blue wave” this November in a state that backed Trump in 2016, many more Republican voters participated in the gubernatorial primary than Democratic voters. With nearly 90 percent of voting precincts counted as of 11 p.m., more than 160,000 more GOP voters than Democrats had cast a ballot.
In the battle for one of Ohio’s Senate seats, Rep. Jim Renacci rode to a somewhat narrow victory Tuesday night with an endorsement from President Donald Trump, and will go on to face Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who has held the seat since 2006, in November’s general election. The Associated Press called the rate about 9:30 p.m.
Party nominees emerged from a number of Ohio House races as well. In Ohio’s 16th district, the seat that Renacci is vacating to run for Senate, former Ohio State football player Anthony Gonzalez clinched the GOP nomination, besting Christina Hagan, who ran as pro-Trump Republican with the help of ex-White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. And in Ohio’s 12th district, vacated by the retirement of Rep. Pat Tiberi (R), Republicans narrowly avoided nominating a controversial Tea Party candidate who state party leaders feared could cost them the seat in November.
An anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative on the Ohio primary ballot also coasted to easy passage early Tuesday evening, with more than 75 percent of voters in favor as of 8:30 p.m. The measure will give the minority party more power in redrawing the heavily-gerrymandered state’s voting maps after the 2020 census, potentially upending political control of the state for years to come.