Mike DeWine leads Republicans to a big day in Ohio: Capitol Letter

Mike DeWine leads Republicans to big victories in Ohio in Tuesday's election.

Rotunda Rumblings

In the red: Democrats posted gains in other parts of the country, but Ohio proved to be firmly in the Republican column in Tuesday’s election, with GOP Attorney General Mike DeWine winning the governor’s race and four fellow Republicans sweeping the other four statewide executive offices. The only Democratic victories were for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who easily held on to his seat, and two seats on the Ohio Supreme Court. But Democrats couldn’t flip a single Republican U.S. House seat to blue. “The statewide elected Democrat is an endangered species in Ohio, which not long ago could boast its reliably swing state status,” writes cleveland.com’s Seth Richardson

Issue 1 goes down big: Ohio voters handily defeated Issue 1, the controversial constitutional amendment to reduce penalties for illegal drug use and possession, cleveland.com’s Laura Hancock reports. “While many Ohioans said they appreciated the intent behind Issue 1, it was widely criticized as too permanent because it would have been enshrined in the Ohio Constitution and difficult to alter if necessary,” Hancock writes. Supporters vowed to continue the fight for criminal justice reform.

Governor DeWine: The Republican attorney general, who led Democrat Richard Cordray by nearly 5 percentage points in unofficial results, “adds another political position to his more than four decades in Ohio politics and signals good times ahead for Republicans, who continue to hold all three branches of state government in Columbus,” Richardson reports. “Tonight’s victory is about moving Ohio forward,” DeWine said in thanking voters. “We are energized by the support you’ve show us, and we will not let you down!”

The sweep: It was the third straight election that Republican took all of the down-ticket executive offices, cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer reports. The election of Dave Yost as attorney general, Keith Faber as auditor, Frank LaRose as secretary of state and Robert Sprague as treasurer is “palpable evidence that Ohio, long held as the nation’s ultimate swing state, is becoming firmly entrenched, on the state level at least, as an enduringly Republican state,” Pelzer writes.

On to 2020? With Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s easy victory over Republican Rep. Jim Renacci, speculation will only get stronger about Brown as a 2020 presidential prospect, reports cleveland.com’s Andrew Tobias.

Split ticket: The victories of Brown and DeWine marked the first time since 1974 that Ohio voters elected a senator and governor from opposite parties, Tobias notes.

House bound: Ohio is getting one new Congress member, but it’s not a Democrat. Republican Anthony Gonzalez cruised to a win over Democrat Susan Moran Palmer in the 16th District to win a seat that was open because Renacci decided to run for Senate instead. As cleveland.com’s Sabrina Eaton explains, Democrats could not manage to notch a win in any of Ohio’s heavily gerrymandered GOP districts, with all incumbents winning re-election. The end result was the status quo, with Republicans holding 12 seats and Democrats 4.

Statehouse dominance: Republicans also maintained their strong majorities in both chambers of the Statehouse, although Democrats did pick up a few seats, Pelzer reports. That means that “perhaps the most conservative Ohio General Assembly ever won’t change much in the next two years,” Pelzer writes.

Supreme leaders: The all-Republican Ohio Supreme Court will become a little Democratic with the election of appeals court Judge Melody Stewart and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Donnelly, cleveland.com’s Olivia Shackleton reports.

Year of the woman? Cleveland.com’s Mary Kilpatrick reports that the Year of the Woman didn’t pan out in Ohio’s election, especially with the losses of Democrats Kathleen Clyde for secretary of state and Betty Sutton for lieutenant governor.

Busy day at the polls: Long lines and full parking lots were the story of the day as counties around the state reported robust turnout. By afternoon, Cuyahoga County had surpassed turnout from the 2014 midterm election, Peter Krouse of cleveland.com reports. Rich Exner has a recap on the unusually high turnout for the county.

Weather to vote: Power outages were reported at some polling places, including in Amherst, Strongsville, North Olmsted and Portage County. But as cleveland.com’s Adam Ferrise reports, voters still were able to cast their ballots. Hancock has a roundup of the day’s problems.

Darn computers: Some Geauga County voters showed up at the polls only to be incorrectly told that they had already voted absentee, Eric Heisig reports for cleveland.com. A computer glitch was to blame. Some were asked to cast provisional ballots while the problems were being worked out.

Jailed voters: Heisig also has an interesting story about a federal judge ordering Montgomery County elections officials to deliver absentee ballots to two people who were arrested and remained in jail when the deadline to apply for the ballots passed.

Glad it’s over but….If you want to relive all of the excitement, glory and agony of election night, here’s a full minute-by-minute recap from cleveland.com’s Kris Wernowsky.

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