Report on Government: Republican Mike DeWine Wins Governor’s Race and Republicans Maintain Firm Control Over Statewide Offices

Government Relations

Following an extremely tight race, Mike DeWine will be the next Governor of Ohio, winning with approximately 50.66 percent of the vote to Democrat Richard Cordray’s 46.45 percent. Secretary of State Jon Husted will serve as Lieutenant Governor. Republicans swept all of the remaining statewide offices:

  • Dave Yost wins the Attorney General race over Steve Dettelbach (52.42 v. 47.58 percent)
  • Keith Faber takes the Auditor’s race over Zach Space (49.93 v. 46.06 percent)
  • Frank LaRose will be the next Secretary of State, defeating Kathleen Clyde (50.92 v. 46.73 percent)
  • Robert Sprague won the Treasurer’s race over Rob Richardson (53.53 v. 46.47 percent)

The night saw record turnout. More than 4.38 million people cast ballots, for a turnout of 54.3 percent, the highest percentage turnout in a non-presidential year since the Republican wave of 1994.

In the rest of the country, Democrats did well in the races for governor. Thirty-five other states elected governors this year, with 15 states electing Democrats and 18 electing Republicans. Three remain close, with a Democrat leading in one and Republicans leading in the other two. Democrats now hold the top elected seat in 22 states, with a possibility for 23, up from 16 states currently.

Democrat Sherrod Brown Wins U.S. Senate Race

Democrat U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown will be returning to the U.S. Senate after holding off his Republican challenger, U.S. Representative Jim Renacci. Brown, a long-time state and federal legislator from Cleveland, won his third term in the Senate by taking 53.2 percent of the vote to Renacci’s 46.8 percent. Brown maintained a sizable lead over Renacci, both in the polls and in fundraising, throughout the race.

Republicans maintained control of the Senate and picked up at least one and likely four additional seats that remain too close to call. Republicans will hold a likely 55 seat majority in the next session.

Democrats Take Control of U.S. House

Despite Democratic gains around the country, no seats were flipped in Ohio, with all incumbents winning their elections and Anthony Gonzalez keeping the open 16th seat in Republican hands. Ohio currently has 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats serving in the U.S. House.

Overall, Democrats were able to flip the House by picking at least 26 seats and leading in an additional 9 races. With at least 219 seats, one over the required 218 to take control, this will be the first time Democrats have been in control of the House since 2011.

  • 1st District: Steve Chabot (R)
  • 2nd District: Brad Wenstrup (R)
  • 3rd District: Joyce Beatty (D)
  • 4th District: Jim Jordan (R)
  • 5th District: Bob Latta (R)
  • 6th District: Bill Johnson (R)
  • 7th District: Bob Gibbs (R)
  • 8th District: Warren Davidson (R)
  • 9th District: Marcy Kaptur (D)
  • 10th District: Mike Turner (R)
  • 11th District: Marcia Fudge (D)
  • 12th District: Troy Balderson (R)
  • 13th District: Tim Ryan (D)
  • 14th District: David Joyce (R)
  • 15th District: Steve Stivers (R)
  • 16th District: Anthony Gonzalez (R)

Republicans Lose Seats in House but Gain One in the Senate, Maintaining Strong Majorities

All incumbent House members were able to win their races, but Republicans lost open seats in suburban communities of Akron, Cleveland and Columbus. In all Democrats were able to turn 5 seats blue, but their pickup was offset by the loss of one seat in Youngstown area. Despite these losses, Republicans will maintain a comfortable majority of 62 to 37. While the upsets were close, all fall outside of the automatic recount percentage.

In the Senate, the Republicans have added to their majority by picking up the seat currently held by Democrat Joe Schiavoni of Boardman. This win increases the Republican majority to 25, with only 8 Democrat members.

Democrat Wins Bring Bipartisan Representation to the Ohio Supreme Court

The Democratic candidates were successful in both races for the Supreme Court. Judge Melody Stewart of the 8th Appellate District in Cuyahoga County defeated incumbent Justice Mary DeGenaro. Justice DeGenaro was appointed earlier this year by Governor Kasich to replace retiring Justice Bill O’Neill. Judge Michael Donnelly of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, defeated Judge Craig Baldwin of the 5th Appellate District in Licking County for the seat being vacated by retiring Justice Terrence O’Donnell. Stewart and Donnelly will join the five Republican justices currently serving on the Court.

Issue 1 Goes Down to Defeat

Voters defeated Issue 1 - the Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment – by a vote of 63.4 to 36.6 percent. The proposed constitutional amendment would have amended Ohio’s drug laws by lessening penalties for drug use or possession and using the savings from fewer incarcerations to pay for increased treatment options. There was significant opposition across the state, with opponents stating that the proponents were overstating the potential savings and thus the funds available for treatment. Many judges also argued that the amendment would have undermined their ability to use lengthy sentences as leverage to get offenders into treatment. Most of the support was from groups from outside of the state.

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