COLUMBUS (AP) — Voters in closely divided Ohio turned out in large numbers and experienced few problems at the polls on Tuesday, easily re-electing their Republican U.S. senator and preparing for the nail-biting conclusion of a colorful and contentious presidential contest.
Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, the state’s elections chief, said the day went smoothly, with no last-minute court challenges and mostly clear, unseasonably warm weather.
Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman won his re-election bid over Democratic challenger Ted Strickland, the state’s once-popular former governor. Congressional incumbents of both parties also won back their seats, with the help of a safely drawn electoral map.
The presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump appeared tight in the state headed into the day.
Associated Press exit polling showed young voters leaned toward Clinton, while white evangelicals strongly favored Trump. The survey showed Ohio voters had worries about both candidates and 3 in 10 thought neither was honest and trustworthy.
At Thoreau Park Elementary school in the Cleveland suburb of Parma, a traditional Democratic stronghold in Cuyahoga County, long-time registered Democrat Rose Noah said she’d switched to the Republican side this year and voted for Trump.
“I’ve told all my friends who’ve asked, if I had to pick one of them as president, I’d rather pick crazy than a liar,” said Noah, 53.
She said Clinton “hasn’t done anything in 40 years” and “has ugly pantsuits.”
Democrat Patrick McMillion, 62, said he supported Clinton because he believed she had better ideas for creating jobs. But he worried about unrest in the country.
“People are looking for an answer, but they don’t know where to find it,” said the retired engineer from Euclid.
In suburban Westlake, independent Michael Emmerich, a 45-year-old commercial pilot, said his vote for Clinton was primarily a vote against Trump, who he called “completely unqualified” to lead the country.
In Columbus, Republican Carl Cray voted for Trump. The 62-year-old retired newspaper press operator said Trump would bring good change and “shake up things.”
Few Election Day voting issues were reported.
A polling place in Warren County in southwest Ohio lost power for more than an hour, but elections director Brian Sleeth said voting was unaffected — “just a little darker than usual.”
Beyond the high-profile contests, there were three state Supreme Court races, 99 state House districts and 16 of 33 state Senate districts.
Democrats hoped to cut into significant Republican majorities in both legislative chambers. Roughly a dozen races were seen as competitive in the House, where Democrats sought to re-take seats lost two years ago and a couple districts vacated by Republicans. The House GOP won 65 seats in 2014, a high-water mark for the caucus.
In state Supreme Court races, judges were running for two open seats while Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor was unopposed for a second term.
At least five Ohio communities were deciding whether to decriminalize marijuana after the state legalized medicinal cannabis under limited circumstances in a law enacted in September.
Proposals to ban the gas drilling technique hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, were on ballots in Waterville and in Youngstown, marking opponents’ sixth attempt.
Associated Press reporters Ann Sanner, Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Kantele Franko in Columbus and Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed to this report.