CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio Republicans are pledging to show that the swing state is still Trump country.
Primary voters on Tuesday picked a President Donald Trump-backed congressman to be the GOP nominee against second-term Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. Voters also set up rematch between Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray, who was unseated as attorney general by DeWine in 2010, in race to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. John Kasich.
Trump scored a decisive victory in Ohio over Hillary Clinton in 2016, after Democrat Barack Obama carried the state twice.
“Ohio is a Trump state,” U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci told supporters Tuesday night. “Ohio is going to move forward with the Trump agenda, and Ohio is going to get anybody who is an obstacle, including Sen. Brown, out of the way.”
Renacci urged Republicans to unite after a five-way primary that saw investment banker Mike Gibbons sue Renacci for allegedly defamatory campaign statements including that Gibbons was anti-Trump. Gibbons raised funds for Trump’s presidential campaign.
Brown, unopposed on Tuesday, has long been tough on trade, and he praised Trump’s moves this year to raise tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. His career in Ohio politics spans more than four decades.
DeWine also emerged from a hard-hitting primary campaign in which Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor called him a “phony conservative” and he called her unqualified.
Cordray, a former consumer watchdog appointed by Obama, won the Democratic nomination after an unusually tough fight by former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who ran to his left on an anti-gun, pro-environment platform. Cordray was backed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a frequent Trump target.
Ohioans also overwhelmingly approved Issue 1 to bring reform to congressional redistricting.
The new rules, which will take effect with 2021 maps, were modeled after new map-making rules for Ohio legislative districts that Ohio voters strongly supported in 2016. Issue 1 won 75 percent of the statewide vote.
Aimed at curbing partisan gerrymandering, the rules will limit how counties are split into multiple districts and require more support from the minority party to put a 10-year map in place. If lawmakers can’t agree, an existing bipartisan commission will take over. If that fails, the majority party can pass a shorter-term map.
Four-term Republican state Rep. Robert Sprague, of Findlay, won the GOP primary for state treasurer over former Ashtabula County Auditor Sandra O’Brien. He and former University of Cincinnati board chairman Rob Richardson Jr., a Democrat, will face off in November for the seat held by term-limited GOP Treasurer Josh Mandel.
Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor won a crowded Democratic primary for the central Ohio congressional seat formerly held by Republican Pat Tiberi, while state Sen. Troy Balderson won the crowded Republican primary.
Several incumbent congressmen who faced competitive GOP primaries all won.
Former Ohio State University football star Anthony Gonzalez won the Republican nomination to succeed Renacci in Ohio’s U.S. House District 16 in a three-way primary where state Rep. Christina Hagan aligned herself closely with Trump’s agenda. Gonzalez agrees on such Trump positions as building a border wall. He will face medical sales businesswoman Susan Moran Palmer, who won the six-candidate Democratic primary.
In central Ohio, political newcomer Rick Neal, a former international relief worker backed by Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers.
Carr Smyth reported from Columbus.
Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell
Follow Julie Carr Smyth at http://www.twitter.com/jcarrsmyth