- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio’s Democratic candidates for statewide offices are crisscrossing the state by bus in an effort to generate support and bring out the vote.

Democrats have dubbed the 12-city effort their “Tour to Restore Ohio,” which they say refers to everything from their interest in restoring budget cuts to schools and local governments to promoting transparency in Ohio’s all-Republican state government power structure.

Gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald and his running mate, Sharen Neuhardt, are joined on the tour by state Sen. Nina Turner, who is running for secretary of state, Cincinnati attorney David Pepper, running for attorney general, and state Reps. John Patrick Carney and Connie Pillich, running for auditor and treasurer.

The tour kicked off Friday and continues through Tuesday, which is the National Voter Registration Day of Action. It includes visits to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Akron, Dayton, Toledo, Chillicothe, Lima, Sandusky, Springfield, Youngstown and Warren.

Also joining the tour are Ohio Supreme Court candidates Tom Letson and John O’Donnell, whose race does not include party labels.

The tour follows a recent decision by FitzGerald’s campaign to divert campaign cash in its race against Republican Gov. John Kasich to Democrats’ overall get-out-the-vote efforts in the face of a series of political blows, including revelations that he’d lacked a permanent driver’s license for more than a decade.

Without a strong top-of-the-ticket race to generate buzz among loyal Democratic voters, the bus tour is among efforts the party is trying to generate turnout for downticket candidates. That particularly includes Carney and Pillich, who have reported healthy fundraising totals in their races against Auditor Dave Yost and Treasurer Josh Mandel, who are viewed as the year’s most vulnerable incumbents.

Among other efforts is a mailer supporting Turner in which former President Bill Clinton urges fellow Democrats to get out and vote. Turner faces Secretary of State Jon Husted, a former Ohio House speaker with nearly four times the money in the bank.

The Friday kickoff of the bus tour also coincided with Attorney General Mike DeWine becoming the first downticket Republican to go on the air with a TV ad.

The spot features his three daughters touting DeWine’s efforts to tackle a rape-kit testing backlog and crack down on scammers who prey on the elderly.

Pepper, the son of a former Procter & Gamble CEO, has run an aggressive campaign and fundraising effort against DeWine, but he lacks the incumbent’s high profile and broad name recognition.


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