Richard Cordray may have carried the Lorain County vote, but Mike DeWine won the state Tuesday, retaining Republican control of the governorship.
The Democrat took 51.18 percent of the vote (57,039 to 51,037) here, according to unofficial results posted by the Lorain County Board of Elections. In Cleveland and Columbus, Cordray won by a 2-1 margin, but other than in urban centers Ohioans swung to the right.
Statewide, DeWine won 51 percent to 46 percent.
In a victory speech just after midnight, he asked for support in the fight against opioid overdoses, in opposition of drug cartels, and in putting people to work to make Ohio the state of opportunity.
“Our challenges are not solvable by just one party. They’re not solvable by just one person,” DeWine said. “They’re solvable by all of us pulling together and working together, and that is my challenge to each and every one of you.”
The candidates had been in a statistical dead heat until Monday, when polling skewed toward Cordray.
But the Democrat’s early voting edge eroded by 9 p.m. on Election Day as DeWine took and then expanded on a five-point lead.
In debates and campaign engagements along the campaign trail, taxes were a major point of contention. Cordray said he would not raise them but promised to spend more on certain programs such as daycare expansion, workforce training, and broadband development.
DeWine, who has celebrated the state’s $2 billion “rainy day fund” under Republican Gov. John Kasich, speculated that Cordray would not be able to move forward without tax hikes.
The candidates were friendly on Medicaid expansion, both promising to protect Ohioans with pre-existing conditions and saying health care needs to be affordable for everyone.
The state’s opioid epidemic was another battleground — Cordray supported sentencing reductions for drug possession under Ohio Issue 1 but DeWine opposed it, siding with most law enforcement and judicial officials who believe leniency will only inflame illegal drug dealers.
DeWine suggested expanding specialized drug task forces, while Cordray supported expanded access to treatment.
Cordray earned powerful endorsements from the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association and Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, and got star power in the form of campaign appearances on his behalf from Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump stumped for DeWine in Cleveland and Kasich hit the trail on his behalf in Columbus.
Each candidate had other celebrity endorsements: Bernie Kosar went campaigning for DeWine while John Legend appeared on behalf of Cordray.