- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Joined by a pair of influential national Republicans, Ohio Gov. John Kasich told supporters Saturday he’s delivered on many of the Democratic ideals he learned in his blue-collar hometown and his state is setting an example that can end partisan bickering.

Kasich was introduced at a pre-Election Day rally by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both of whom joined him at an early morning Republican breakfast.

“This is not just an election; this is a movement in Ohio,” Kasich told about 400 people who rallied at the Ohio State University Airport, drawing parallels with Christie’s work in New Jersey.

Kasich asked backers to tell Democrats among family and friends about his administration’s efforts to right Ohio’s finances, improve education, fight prescription drug abuse and help the poor and mentally ill. He urged supporters to tell Democrats to “come across the river” to the Republican Party.

“We’re showing that we can tackle the toughest problems, that no one - including our friends in the minority community - will be left out,” he said. “Do you see what’s happening? We’re uniting the state, and by uniting the state we can help unite the country. We’re all longing for it and hungry for it, for our lives and most important the lives of our children.”

Kasich’s remarks came as Ohio Democrats are severely weakened by a series of negative revelations and missteps faced by their gubernatorial candidate, Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald.

While FitzGerald continued to campaign across the state Saturday, the former FBI agent headed into Tuesday’s election having lacked the political capital to force a public debate with Kasich or the money to get his message out on TV. That opened up opportunities for crossover voting for Kasich.

Antonio and Jessica Campbell, both 25, headed into Franklin County’s early voting center Saturday in Columbus optimistic about Democrats’ chances. Both said they planned to vote the entire Democratic ticket, top to bottom.

Asked if that included FitzGerald, Antonio Campbell said, “He’s iffy, and Kasich’s done a pretty good job.” Jessica Campbell added: “We’ll see when we get in there.”

Not all Ohio Republicans were out of woods. Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French appeared with Kasich at Saturday’s rally to urge Republicans to vote their ballots all the way to the bottom. She noted her tough race against Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell, who’s got an Irish surname favorable with voters in judicial races.

“I know some of you don’t like the French, but I know a lot of you here like Judge Judy,” French said.

Also appearing at the GOP rally were Auditor Dave Yost and Attorney General Mike DeWine. DeWine won a tight race four years ago against Democratic incumbent Richard Cordray and has faced an aggressive campaign push by Cincinnati lawyer David Pepper.

The former U.S. senator drew cheers from the crowd when he spoke of reducing the backlog of untested rape kits and shortening processing times at the state’s crime lab, the Bureau of Criminal Identification. He was joined on stage by wife Fran and two of his daughters.

At state Democratic headquarters in Columbus, volunteers for the national Human Rights Campaign were working the phones to promote their endorsement of Pepper as a supporter of gay marriage rights.

Pepper and other Democratic candidates had spread out across the state working to energize volunteer canvassers and to get voters to the polls in a year that both sides acknowledge may see very low turnout - for the reason that Republicans are overconfident and Democrats are unenthused.

“I think it’s too bad because so much is at stake,” said Pepper, a Cincinnati lawyer. “Often, more things are at stake for Ohioans in this (statewide) election than a presidential election, whether it’s my race or other races.” He mentioned education, election laws and responses to the state’s heroin crisis as examples.

“A lot of the everyday things that people really worry about, the people who are on the (Ohio) ballot this November have more to do with, than the people they vote for in Washington in the other elections,” he said.

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