Ohio primary votes set fields for fall election

DAN SEWELL Associated Press Published:

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Now it's on to the finals.

Ohioans winnowed down the fields Tuesday for races from governor to the U.S. House to their local officeholders in primary votes that brought few surprises while setting the stage for the Nov. 4 general election. Elections officials reported light turnout in many areas, with no significant voting problems.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald romped past a little-known Democratic foe for governor and will square off against Republican Gov. John Kasich in a test of how Ohioans feel about how their state is doing. Kasich points to job creation and other growth; FitzGerald said Tuesday night that "things have gone off track in Ohio," and that working families are getting left out by an administration he says is dedicated to the privileged.

"I hope the Democrats in Ohio get their act together," said Rick Pender, 65, a voter in Cincinnati.

Republican leaders will hope that tea party challenges turned back Tuesday will leave a united GOP for fall.

"Ohio Republicans are coming together tonight as we look forward to sharing the story of our state's comeback over the last three years," state Republican Chairman Matt Borges said in a statement.

A couple of Republican candidates with national tea party backing fell short against incumbents, according to unofficial returns.

House Speaker John Boehner tallied a hefty 69 percent of the vote in western Ohio, but tea party opposition nibbled into his typical margins, such as the 84 percent and 85 percent of his last two primaries. He'll face Miami University professor Tom Poetter, Democratic primary winner, in the 8th District Boehner first won in 1990. Meanwhile, freshman GOP Rep. David Joyce held off a tea party challenger, getting 55 percent against Matthew Lynch in the 14th district. He will face Cleveland Democrat Michael Wager, unopposed in his primary.

Some Democrats see a competitive race coming in Appalachian coal country against two-term Republican Rep. Bill Johnson. Former state legislator Jennifer Garrison, an anti-abortion, pro-gun rights Democrat won the 6th District primary.

A former state legislator and Summit County councilman, Pete Crossland, 76, won the Democratic primary in the 16th District and will try to unseat two-time GOP Rep. Jim Renacci this fall.

A Republican state legislator facing felony charges that accuse him of misleading investors and misusing their money ran a distant third in his bid to keep the seat he's held since 2009. Rep. Peter Beck of Mason, who denies the allegations, had about 8 percent of the vote, with Paul Zeltwanger, who owns a real estate development company, winning with 52 percent in the southwestern Ohio race.

Two other House incumbents lost primaries: Democrat Zack Milkovich of Barberton and Republican Peter Stautberg of the Cincinnati area.

Incumbent Democratic Reps. John Barnes and Bill Patmon of Cleveland won their primaries after the state party endorsed their challengers.

All five Republican incumbents in the Ohio Senate with primaries won.

Voters supported by nearly a 2-to-1 margin a statewide public works issue that will allow the state to borrow $1.875 billion over 10 years through the issuance of general obligation bonds.

The Ohio Public Works Commission would use the funds to provide grants and loans to local governments for capital improvement projects. Those could include repairs to roadways, wastewater treatment systems and sanitary collection. The Libertarian Party of Ohio and the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law opposed it, but Kasich said the proposal would keep Ohio's economy growing by making needed investments in infrastructure.

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Associated Press writers Ann Sanner in Columbus, Amanda Myers in Cincinnati and John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.

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