CLEVELAND, Ohio – Republican Mike DeWine will be the next governor of Ohio, winning a rematch against his 2010 electoral foe, Democrat Richard Cordray.
Multiple news outlets called the race for DeWine around 11 p.m. and Cordray conceded to DeWine shortly after. Unofficial results from the secretary of states office showed DeWine with a nearly 5-percentage point lead as of 11:30 p.m.
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DeWine, 71, the current Ohio attorney general, adds another political position to his more than four decades in Ohio politics and signals good times ahead for Republicans, who continue to hold all three branches of state government in Columbus. Democrats were hoping to flip the state with Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but couldnt capitalize on a friendly electoral environment.
Issue 1 would have changed that, reducing all drug possession offenses to misdemeanors. It also would have made it harder to imprison or jail people for such offenses, reduced the use of prison time for non-criminal probation violations, and let people in prison, except those incarcerated for murder, rape, or child molestation, seek sentence reductions up to 25 percent if they participate in rehabilitative programs, up from 8 percent under current rules. It would have applied the financial savings (from having fewer people in prison) to addiction treatment programs and crime victim funds.
“I want to thank the people of Ohio for the trust and confidence theyve placed in us tonight,” DeWine said in a statement to cleveland.com. “Tonights victory is about moving Ohio forward. We are energized by the support youve show us, and we will not let you down!”
DeWine was considered the Republican front-runner from the onset of the race, but didnt become the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination until convincing then-primary opponent Jon Husted, Ohios secretary of state, to join his ticket. The Republican Party hoped the super-ticket would clear the primary field and be too much for the Democrats to overcome.
Video: Mike DeWine projected winner in race for Ohio Governor
Turnout key as DeWine, Cordray wrap tight Ohio governor race
DeWine staved off a challenge from his right in the primary from Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, and had to moderate his rhetoric on health care to woo voters against Cordray in the general election.
To some degree, this should be expected. Research has long indicated that the severity of punishment has very little effect on someones willingness to commit a crime or use drugs. For example, a 2014 study from Peter Reuter at the University of Maryland and Harold Pollack at the University of Chicago found theres no good evidence that tougher punishments or harsher supply elimination efforts do a better job of driving down access to drugs and substance misuse than lighter penalties.
He also had to tap into his personal wealth, dumping $4 million of his own money into the race. DeWines fundraising advantage allowed him to launch a media assault, with commercials accusing Cordray of failing rape victims, wanting to leave drug dealers on the street and being culpable for the 2008 financial crisis.
No blue wave in deep red Southwest Ohio
In the end, it worked. Democrats hoped Cordray could be the standard-bearer for the Democratic ticket, reversing their decades of bad fortune in gubernatorial elections, carrying others into down ballot offices and beginning the process of rebuilding a bench thats been obliterated since 2010. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat who won his re-election campaign handily Tuesday, is the only statewide Democrat to achieve success statewide since 2008.
“I believe the success of politics is not always defined by the outcome of an election,” Cordray told the crowd at his concession speech. “The reason we do this is because we want to improve peoples lives, and I believe the work that all of you have done throughout this campaign has changed the conversation in ways that will dramatically improve the lives of people all over Ohio.”
Polling prior to Tuesday indicated it might be a tight race, with the numbers breaking slightly for Cordray in the final days. Political handicappers also tilted their expectations in Cordrays direction.
Video: Ohio Governors Race Remains Tight
But the Republican turnout machine in Ohio was too much to overcome. DeWine cut through Cordrays lead quickly, performing better than Republicans usually do in blue-collar places like Mahoning County. He and the rest of the Republican slate – which swept the statewide constitutional races – also had the benefit of a booming economy and voters generally saying they were happy with the direction the state was headed.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has defeated Obama-era consumer protection chief Richard Cordray in the race for Ohio governor.
His victory suggests the Democratic coalition in the state is smaller than ever, essentially confined to the urban areas. As of 11:30 p.m., Cordray was on pace to win only nine counties.
Republicans were able to keep the suburban counties in tow after fearing they may break for Democrats given voters general disdain for Republican President Donald Trump in those areas.
Paper jam blamed for vote switching problem in Franklin County
Republicans can now claim ownership of the governors office for most of the last three decades. DeWine has made it clear that hell continue the Republican agenda in the state.
What that means isnt totally certain, though DeWine will likely follow the course set by Gov. John Kasich and Republicans in Columbus for the last eight years.
An average of 55.33 percent of registered voters from those counties participated in Tuesday's polling. That's compared to 41.80 percent of voters from the region who took part in the 2014 midterms and the 51.49 percent in 2010.
During the campaign, DeWine promised a greater focus on vocational education and technical training to fill skilled-trade jobs. Republicans in Columbus will also likely look to slash regulations, another promise of DeWines from the campaign.
He also touted a 12-point opioid plan, which he said he would combat the states ongoing drug addiction scourge.
DeWine received approximately 50.9 percent of the popular vote in Ohio, while Cordray received 46.2 percent of the statewide vote, according to unofficial results.
And Ohioans can likely expect a push for some of the more socially conservative bills that Kasich vetoed during his time in office. At the top of the list is the “heartbeat bill,” which would outlaw abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected – around roughly six weeks into pregnancy. DeWine said during the campaign he would sign the bill if it reached his desk. Critics argue it would effectively ban abortion in the state since many women dont know they are pregnant at six weeks.
The same division between Republican and Democratic voter turnout were reflected across the board in Southwest Ohio when it came to statewide office races.
The big question is what will happen with health care in the state, particularly the Medicaid expansion. DeWine both attacked and praised Kasichs signature legislation from his time in office, calling it unsustainable but vowing to keep it and add work requirements.
Legislative Republicans tried to freeze enrollment to the program in 2017, which provides health care to 700,000 Ohioans who might otherwise lose health care coverage. DeWine did not say during the campaign whether he would have signed that bill, which Kasich vetoed.
Race for Ohio Governor too close to call
But Ohioans obviously trusted DeWine enough, even as Democrats attacked him nonstop over health care.
Supporters argued Issue 1 would have saved tens of millions of dollars in prison costs, money that would be dedicated not only to drug treatment but to crime victim programs, as well.
Democrats gained ground by winning other governors races in the Midwest – including Kansas, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois – but Ohio proved itself reliably red and in the presidents corner. Trump added a last-minute rally in Ohio and was successful at getting his man into office.
Decision 2018: Election results from around central Ohio
Kasich will leave office in January and his future standing in the Ohio GOP isnt totally known. The party has drifted away from Kasich, embracing his political rival Trump. While Kasich supported DeWine, Kasich was mostly a non-factor in the race. DeWine kept him to the sidelines for much of the race, opting instead for the support of Trump.
DeWine wins governors race, leading GOP repeat sweep
With that strategy proving successful, Ohio may be tired of Kasich, who is widely thought to be considering a 2020 challenge to Trump, though he would have a difficult time without support from his home state.
Turnout key as Cordray, DeWine wrap tight Ohio governor race
Republican Mike DeWine will win Ohios gubernatorial race, successfully defending a swing state governors office for the GOP, NBC News projects.
The 71-year-old Ohio attorney general will defeat Democrat Richard Cordray, who came up short even as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown was projected to win re-election. DeWine will succeed Republican Gov. John Kasich.
The Republican ran a campaign focused on preserving the economic gains seen under GOP control of the state and federal government. Cordray, former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ran a campaign focused on protecting access to health-care coverage.
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