COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Democrats in Ohio are trying to turn a recent Republican tide in statewide races, relying on a ticket led by a familiar U.S. senator and a competitive governor candidate.
Sherrod Brown, first elected to an Ohio office in 1974, is seeking his third Senate term against fourth-term U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci. Richard Cordray, President Barack Obama’s appointee as federal consumer protection chief, is locked in a tight race for governor with Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine. It’s a rematch of the 2010 election when DeWine narrowly ousted Cordray to become attorney general.
DeWine’s been running in elections nearly as long as Brown, who unseated DeWine in the 2006 Senate race.
Republicans have dominated recent statewide elections, capped by Republican Donald Trump’s decisive 8-point victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Voters casting ballots on Tuesday began lining up early at some polling locations around the state, where Ohioans are also deciding another four down-ticket races, two Supreme Court seats, dozens of state legislative races and a statewide drug sentencing ballot issue. Gov. John Kasich and Ohio’s other statewide officeholders, all Republicans, are vacating their seats due to term limits.
Republicans are trying to maintain the 12-4 U.S. House delegation lead they’ve held since GOP-dominating redistricting for 2012.
The Democrats’ best chances for upsets appear to be in central Ohio’s 12th district, where Republican Troy Balderson, a former state senator, barely defeated Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor in an August special election, and in southwest Ohio’s 1st District, where Democratic upstart Aftab Pureval ran a well-funded race against Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, who is seeking his 12th term. Chabot got a late campaign boost from Trump’s visit to the district Oct. 12.