Ohio’s 2010 election results will have a tremendous impact on not only the national political landscape, but also on the U.S. Presidential election in 2012. This Election Night Bulletin is a brief recap of the major state and national races that will shape the future of Ohio for many years to come. The Governor’s office will be occupied by John Kasich, on January 1, 2011 and the Ohio House will be led by the Republican Party. In addition, the Republicans will be leading the U.S. House of Representatives while national Democrats look to have a slim majority in the U.S. Senate as of late Tuesday night.
Republicans swept all other statewide races, with former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine beating incumbent Rich Cordray to become the next Attorney General. Jon Husted was elected Ohio Secretary of State, Dave Yost, a former Delaware County Prosecutor, will be the State’s next Auditor, and Josh Mandel was elected State Treasurer.
Perhaps most importantly, control of the Ohio Apportionment Board, made up of the Governor, Auditor, Secretary of State, and one appointment from the majority of each legislative chamber, will be in the hands of the Republican Party. The Party will have complete control over the “pen” used to draw new State House of Representatives, State Senate, and U.S. Congressional districts for the next 10 years. Ohio is slated to lose two U.S. Congressional seats based on last year’s census and this will have a major impact on how the state’s new congressional districts will look, and who will be running two years from now.
Below is a brief description of some highly contentious and closely watched races around Ohio. Please note that all reported results are “unofficial” and subject to change based on the review of the Ohio Secretary of State.
Republican John Kasich was successful in unseating one-term Democratic Incumbent Ted Strickland by a margin of less than 3 percentage points. Kasich is a former U.S. Congressman from Westerville, Ohio.
According to Governor-elect Kasich’s website, he plans to emphasize job growth and a reduction in business regulation during his tenure as Ohio’s Governor. Specifically, he proposes streamlining and increasing the effectiveness of job training programs while making them more accessible to business.
A centerpiece of Mr. Kasich’s job growth plan is the elimination of the Ohio Department of Development, replacing it with a private sector, statewide economic development corporation. This corporation would be led by a board of private sector CEOs and staffed by non-government employees. This proposal may signal a move towards smaller state government and a willingness by the Governor-elect to privatize certain key governmental functions.
The Governor-elect will face a difficult road ahead as the state prepares to introduce the biennium (two-year) state operating budget with a projected $8 billion shortfall in necessary revenue. Mr. Kasich has not provided details to the public on how he plans to plug that gap.
Former Congressman and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman defeated sitting Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher to become the newest U.S. Senator to represent Ohio in Washington D.C. During his previous tenure in our Nation’s capital, Mr. Portman also served as George W. Bush’s Director of the Office Budget and Management. The Cincinnati Republican will take office in January 2011 and serve a sixyear term.
Candidate Portman’s website focused on many different issues but highlighted two distinct areas of focus with “Portman’s Jobs Plan” and “Portman’s Energy Plan.” The jobs plan focuses on six key areas, including “supporting Ohio workers, helping small businesses succeed, strengthening the environment for job creation, reforming financial regulations to hold Wall Street accountable, healing the economy by reducing the deficit, getting directly involved in economic development.” Highlights include reforming job training by increasing funding to community and technical colleges while increasing on-site job training opportunities, suspending the payroll tax for one year, and ending the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and rolling back the federal stimulus plan.
Incumbent Democrat Rich Cordray was beaten by former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine. Attorney General-Elect DeWine criticized Cordray for, among other things, the AG’s handling of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation back-log in processing DNA evidence.
Perhaps the biggest plank in DeWine’s political platform is the challenge of the federal health care bill. Focusing on jobs, Attorney General-Elect DeWine described the federal bill, “an unconstitutional encroachment by the federal government,” and a job killer on his website. He vowed to join other state attorneys general to bring legal challenges against the federal bill.
Ohio House of Representatives
Election experts have been watching the Ohio House races since earlier this year, trying to predict which party will control the Speaker’s gavel in 2011. In a move admired by political observers around Ohio, House Republican Leader Bill Batchelder took control of the Ohio House by a wide margin after two years of Democratic leadership. Leader Batchelder will take the Speaker’s chair in January.
Some of the surprise pickups in the Ohio House Republican Caucus included Lynn Slaby (R - Akron) who beat the House Education Committee Chair Bryan Williams (D - Akron) and Bill Hayes (R) who beat incumbent Insurance Committee Chairman Dan Dodd (D – Hebron). Republicans, at this point, hold 59 seats in the lower chamber to the Democrats 38 with two seats yet to be decided with the incumbent Democrat Connie Pillich holding a 5 vote lead and incumbent Debbie Newcomb down 51 votes.
With Republican control of the Ohio House, Senate, and Governor’s office, the prospects of a “lame-duck” legislative session between November 2 and the end of the year seem highly unlikely.
The Ohio Senate Republicans held a predictable majority in this year’s election cycle. The Senate Republicans held a 21-12 majority and actually improved their margin by two to take an overwhelming 23-10 majority. Senator Sue Morano of Lorain was defeated by Gayle Manning, a retired teacher and North Ridgeville City Council member. Senator Fred Strahorn of Dayton lost to first-time candidate Bill Beagle.
By securing two more seats, the Senate Republicans can now override any vetoes by the Governor and pass emergency measures without support by the minority caucus.
Ohio Supreme Court
Justice Maureen O’Connor defeated appointed Chief Justice Eric Brown to become Ohio’s first woman Chief Justice. She will vacate her current seat on the Ohio Supreme Court in order to assume the role of Chief Justice and Gov. Ted Strickland will be able to fill that vacancy before he departs from office. It is undetermined if he will reappoint Justice Brown to the high court or select someone else to appoint to this important position. In addition, Justice Judy Lanzinger was able to win another 6 year term on the Ohio Supreme Court by defeating Court of Appeals Judge Mary Jane Trapp.
U.S. House of Representatives
Democrats lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives as Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Westchester) looks to take over as Speaker after January 2011. Democratic losses came from across the country, but Ohio’s Democratic delegation was eviscerated with incumbent Representatives Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus), Zack Space (D-Dover), John Boccieri (D-Alliance), and Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) defeated by Republican challengers.
Republican control of the U.S. House of Representatives could signal an attempted repeal of the federal healthcare “Affordable Care Act,” revisions to government stimulus spending and new tax reforms.
The United States Senate maintained a slim majority by Democrats, creating an environment of split control between the Senate and House Chambers in Washington. Ohio elected former Congressman Rob Portman as mentioned above. In addition, West Virginia voted to replace long-time Senator Robert Byrd, who died in office, with sitting Democratic Governor Joe Manchin who won a very close race to help Democrats hold on to their Senate majority. Nevada Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid also won reelection, but it remains to be seen if Senator Reid can hold on as Leader of his new, smaller majority.
Contested Races: Click here to see the results for some of the most hotly contested Ohio General Assembly and Congressional races. The last column indicates if the winner pulled an upset over the sitting incumbent or if the winner of an open seat caused a shift in party control of that district from the last election cycle.