- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio elected its first Democratic governor in 20 years, and a Democrat defeated the Republican incumbent for Senate in yesterday’s election.

In the governor’s race, Rep. Ted Strickland easily defeated his Republican challenger, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, while two-term Sen. Mike DeWine lost his re-election bid to Rep. Sherrod Brown.

Mr. Strickland’s popularity appears to have benefited other Democratic candidates across this state, which helped guarantee President Bush’s re-election two years ago.

“When voters go with one party at the top of the ticket, they tend to vote along party lines the rest of the way down the ballot,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Randy Borntrager.

Mr. DeWine, a centrist Republican who has crossed party lines on a number of issues, appeared to suffer from an anti-Republican mood in the state.

Democrats targeted five Republican seats, but four of those races remain uncertain last night.

Rep. Deborah Pryce, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, appears to have held her 15th Congressional District, despite a strong challenge from Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy, a Franklin County commissioner. In Ohio’s 18th District, Democrat Zack Space is the projected winner over Republican Joy Padgett, who was running to replace former Rep. Bob Ney, a Republican.

In Ohio’s 1st District, Republican Rep. Steve Chabot trailed Democratic challenger John Cranley 51 percent to 49 percent, with 31 percent of precincts reporting. In the 2nd District, Rep. Jean Schmidt lead her Democratic challenger, Victoria Wulsin, 51 percent to 49 percent, with 83 percent of precincts reporting.

And in the 12th District, Rep. Pat Tiberi had an edge over Democrat Bob Shamansky, 53 percent to 47 percent, with 72 percent of precincts reporting.

In addition, Democrats in Indiana are projected to have picked up all three of their targeted Republican House seats.

In the state’s 8th District, Rep. John Hostettler lost to Democrat Sheriff Brad Ellsworth. In the state’s 2nd District, Rep. Chris Chocola is projected to have lost a rematch with Democrat challenger Joe Donnelly. And in the 9th District, Rep. Mike Sodrel is projected to have lost the seat he won two years ago from former Democratic Rep. Baron Hill.

Even with the voting trends appearing to favor Democrats, party officials in Ohio filed a lawsuit last night to keep polls open for extra time in northern Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, purporting that more than a dozen polling places opened late and made some people miss out on voting. A federal district court judge agreed and said that polls in 16 precincts in the county were to remain open until at least 10 p.m. yesterday.

Democrats also have complained about a number of reported voting-machine problems across the state.

Despite the near-constant drizzle of rain, polling stations in Columbus appeared to have strong turnout. After winning a legal decision on Monday, Democrats were able to increase the number of poll watchers across the state. Republicans yesterday accused those same poll watchers of attempting to intimidate Republican voters and coaching other voters to support Democratic candidates.

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