Republicans Retain Top Statewide Seats in Big Win over Democrats
Gov. John Kasich took the stage to deliver his victory speech with energy and a clear message. He said Ohio voters are showing that the Republican Party is now a more welcoming group that invites all sorts of people who may not have supported their issues in the past.
“By reaching out, by having a good head and building a strong economy, but a good heart that recognizes the struggle of those that often times had been left behind, people now in Ohio feel included," Kasich said. "They feel optimistic. They feel hopeful.”
From Secretary of State Jon Husted and down the ticket, all the Republican winners urged that they must continue this momentum into 2016, the next presidential election, where Kasich is thought to be a potential contender.
Mike DeWine, who was just re-elected as attorney general, said he thought Kasich or Ohio’s junior U.S. Senator, Rob Portman, would have a good shot at being part of a national campaign.
“Well Ohio is a crucial state as we all know in the presidential election. That's why I think there’s a fairly decent chance we’ll see an Ohioan -- John Kasich or Rob Portman -- on the ticket.”
Kasich’s victory over Democratic Ed FitzGerald is second biggest gubernatorial win in modern-day Ohio politics.
At the Ohio Democratic Party campaign headquarters, the mood was somber as Democratic nominee Ed FitzGerald, who had lagged far behind Kasich in recent polls, made his concession speech. He garnered only 33 percent of the vote, while Kasich got 64 percent.
But FitzGerald urged his volunteers to continue fighting for his proposals to improve education, the environment and create good-paying jobs in Ohio.
“We need you to persevere and continue to fight for all of those principles, not to benefit a specific politician or a specific campaign," FitzGerald said, "but for all of the people in Ohio who deserve so much more than they’re getting.”
FitzGerald was not alone. Every Democrat on the statewide ballot lost. Most of the party’s candidates trailed significantly in fundraising compared with the Republicans. Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who has been criticized by many in his own party for lacking leadership and organization in this campaign, said it was a sign of the times.
“I’m quite convinced that it wasn’t the lack of money raised, or the infrastructure, the activists, the volunteers," Redfern said. "It was a fact that during a second term presidential cycle, you will see what you see tonight nationally. It’s difficult. It was difficult for President Bush in 2006. It’s going to be difficult for Democrats tonight.”
The night was especially difficult for Redfern, a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, who lost re-election to that position as well. And, at the end of the evening, Redfern issued a statement that he will step down from his post as the leader of the Ohio Democratic Party in mid-December.