Ohio again supports Democrats Obama, Sherrod Brown

KANTELE FRANKO Associated Press Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Swing-state Ohioans who endured months of seemingly nonstop campaign visits and ads are sending President Barack Obama, Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner back to Washington, along with two Republican congressmen who won hotly contested races.

Voters on Tuesday supported some new faces, too, as challengers unseated two Ohio Supreme Court justices and Republicans secured enough seats to keep control in the state Legislature.

People waited in lines at some polling places for more than an hour to cast a ballot amid reports of heavy turnout, but few Election Day problems were reported.

In the biggest races, Democrats came out on top. Despite an onslaught of attacks from conservative outside groups, Brown defeated GOP state Treasurer Josh Mandel. Hours later, Obama's victory over Republican Mitt Romney was announced.

Republican Gov. John Kasich congratulated the president in a statement and urged the Democrat to seek bipartisan solutions to the nation's economic concerns.

"Working together we can tear down the barriers to growth that are holding Ohio and America back," Kasich said.

Obama's bailout of the auto industry was popular with Ohio voters, with most saying they approved of the decision. Voters looking for a strong leader and someone who shared their values went with Romney, according to preliminary exit poll results.

A University of Phoenix administrator, Richard Spinner, voted for Obama in suburban Cleveland and said the economy is moving in the right direction.

"I think we're moving forward," said Spinner, 64. "I think we're making positive movement and I want us to continue to make positive movement."

In the same area, Barb Draves, an outpatient surgical center manager and Republican, said she had voted for Romney and respected the business success he had from hard work.

"I'm sick and tired of working hard and seeing people who aren't doing anything. It's just ridiculous," said Draves, 57.

The state's two hotly contested U.S. House races ended in victories for Republican congressmen. Rep. Jim Renacci won a costly battle of incumbents in northeast Ohio to oust Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton, whose district was eliminated under redrawn political maps. In a rematch, Rep. Bill Johnson defeated former U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson in eastern Ohio.

Boehner was unopposed for re-election. In other races, former Democratic state Rep. Joyce Beatty was elected in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, and Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur beat Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, the man who became known as Joe the Plumber during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Republicans secured enough seats to maintain their control in each chamber of the Ohio Legislature, according to unofficial results. They'll be joined at the Statehouse by current Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who won a House seat in northern Ohio.

The Ohio Supreme Court will get two new members but have the same political makeup. Republican Sharon Kennedy, a Butler County domestic relations judge, unseated the lone Democrat, Justice Yvette McGee Brown, to serve an unexpired term through 2014. The court's new Democrat will be William O'Neill, a retired appeals court judge from Cleveland who beat Republican Justice Robert Cupp, of Lima.

Republican Justice Terrence O'Donnell, of Cleveland, defeated Democratic state Sen. Mike Skindell to keep his seat.

Ohioans rejected the two statewide issues on the ballot.

Issue 2 proposed having a 12-member commission of residents redraw congressional and legislative maps. Issue 1 asked voters if they'd like an Ohio Constitution convention to make changes.

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Associated Press writers Ann Sanner, Julie Carr Smyth, John Seewer, Dan Sewell and Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus and Thomas J. Sheeran in Cleveland contributed to this report.