GOP secures majorities in Legislature

ANN SANNER Associated Press Published:

COLUMBUS (AP) -- Republicans will continue their control over the Ohio Legislature, having secured enough seats in Tuesday's election to give them an edge in each chamber.

The GOP's victories mean that Republican Gov. John Kasich should have a smoother chance at getting his budget passed next session, along other legislative priorities such as workforce development and job training.

Republicans had majorities in both the House and Senate going into Election Day. Voters were choosing all 99 House members, along with 18 of 33 state senators.

It was a long shot for Democrats to take control of the Senate, which has been in GOP hands since 1985. Republicans have held a 23-10 advantage there for about the last two years.

But Democrats were hoping to hang onto enough seats in the Ohio House to keep Republicans from being able to override vetoes, place constitutional amendments before voters and more easily pull off legislative maneuvers, such as suspending certain House rules.

The GOP has a 59-40 edge in the House. The party needed only one additional seat to get more legislative power. Picking up seven seats would allow them to pass bills that could take effect sooner if Kasich signs them into law.

With three House races and one Senate contest undecided, it wasn't immediately clear what the final breakdown would be in each chamber.

Some Democrats had tougher races this fall after their political boundaries were redrawn last year by a Republican-controlled board. Legislative district lines are altered every 10 years to reflect population shifts after each census.

On the campaign trail, Democrats had tried to cast their Republican challengers as extreme, citing their favorable votes on abortion limits, collective bargaining restrictions and a state budget that squeezed local governments and school districts. The GOP candidates had countered that Republican economic policies had helped spur job growth in the state.

One competitive Senate race featured Democratic Sen. Lou Gentile, of Steubenville, who was trying to fend off Republican Shane Thompson, of St. Clairsville, to keep his seat in a Democratic-leaning district in eastern Ohio.

With 78 percent of precincts reporting, Gentile was leading with almost 52 percent of the vote.

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