COLUMBUS — Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine defeated Obama-era consumer protection chief Richard Cordray in the race for Ohio governor on Tuesday, leading a GOP sweep of statewide nonjudicial offices and dashing Democrats’ hopes of riding an anti-Trump wave into power in a key swing state.
DeWine, 71, one of the state’s most well-known politicians, beat Cordray to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. John Kasich. He was bolstered by strong support across rural Ohio as Cordray did best in the state’s urban Democratic strongholds.
“Thank you, Ohio,” DeWine posted on his Twitter account. “Let’s get to work!”
Allen, Putnam and Auglaize County all went in DeWine’s favor. He easily took Allen County (67 percent), Auglaize County (78 percent) and Putnam County (80 percent).
“I like the way our state’s been run so I stick with the Republicans,” said Richard Downing, of Lima.
Most of the women voters interviewed by The Lima News supported DeWine.
Millie Gilmore, of St. Marys, feared Cordray and the Democrats would lean more toward Socialism. “Opening that door scares me,” she said.
Valerie Kutka, of Lima, was a swing voter who voted for DeWine. “I don’t always vote Republican but this time around I felt that the Republican’s had a stronger stance on matters that were important to me,” she said.
Kristi Lora of Lima agreed. “The Republican platform matches my values as a whole for what they stand for and what I know is going to get passed and how they’re going to legislate.”
Beth Vorst, of Columbus Grove, voted a straight Republican ticket, not a normal thing for her. “I think the Democrats are not playing fair, and I wanted to send a message.”
Cordray won support with his pledge to block any attempts by Republicans to roll back Medicaid expansion.
“I have a friend who just had a brain aneurysm burst and the insurance companies said it was hereditary. They gave her a hard time about paying. They said it was pre-existing,” said Ida Helmlinger, of St. Marys.
Eight straight years of Republican rule was enough for Shirley Burgenstein, of Lima. “It’s time for a change,” she said.
Lisa Paton, of Lima, liked Cordray. “If I’m not 100 percent sure, I lean toward a Democrat.”
Now that the election is over, Nancy Nevarez of St. Marys hopes to see an end to the bickering between Republicans and Democrats.
“It’s not about them,” she said. “It’s about us, in the middle.”
DeWine’s win followed an 11th hour effort to embrace both Republican President Donald Trump and Kasich, one of the party’s most vocal Trump detractor. The same strategy helped Republican Troy Balderson win a key U.S. House seat in an August special election, and again Tuesday.
DeWine had to walk a careful line on both the governor and the president, instead relying on his long record of public service as a former lieutenant governor, congressman and U.S. senator.
Cordray, 59, joined other Democrats who sought to capitalize on citizen backlash against Trump.
He has spent the past year touting his record as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a position to which he was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama. He also served a former state treasurer and attorney general.
Cordray’s campaign style, often criticized as bookish and boring, failed to ignite enough fire across the state to defeat a ticket of Republican incumbents — and the defeat had a coattails effect on the entire ticket.
It was DeWine and Cordray’s third career match-up. DeWine defeated Cordray in a close race for state attorney general in 2010. And Cordray lost a four-way Democratic primary in 2000 for the seat held by DeWine, who was in his first Senate term.