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Ohio primary news: Kasich-FitzGerald showdown set as only 16% of voters turnout

According to unofficial voter information posted early Wednesday morning by the Ohio Secretary of State, the eagerly expected match-up for governor this year between incumbent Republican Gov. John R. Kasich and Ed FitzGerald, his Democratic challenger, has 181 days to play itself out before voters again go to the polls on Tuesday, November 4.

One of the 16% of voters who voted Tuesday in Ohio's primary election season.
One of the 16% of voters who voted Tuesday in Ohio's primary election season.John Michael Spinelli
With contests set for the General Election this fall, today's big winners in Ohio—GOP Gov. John Kasich and Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald—won't know whether apathy or appetite among voters is help or hurt them.
With contests set for the General Election this fall, today's big winners in Ohio—GOP Gov. John Kasich and Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald—won't know whether apathy or appetite among voters is help or hurt them.SOS

The number of ballots cast, outstanding absentees and outstanding provisionals are provided to the Secretary of State’s office by Ohio's 88 county boards of elections on Election Night. The numbers are unofficial and only provide a snapshot until the final results are certified in the weeks following the election. State law mandates that outstanding provisionals and absentees are not tabulated before the 10th day following the Election.

Gov. Kasich, who ran unopposed despite threats earlier in the year from Tea Party advocates to oppose him, netted 550,618 votes. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, who did have a primary challenger but of no consequence, landed 83-percent of the statewide tally or 358,312 votes. For Anita Rios, a write-in candidate for governor from the Green Party, no results were posted.

Crowing over turnout for Gov. Kasich Tuesday, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges cited now familiar talking points about why Gov. Kasich is widely expected to win in November. "Ohio Republicans are coming together tonight as we look forward to sharing the story of our state's comeback over the last three years," Borges wrote. "Since Republicans took office nearly 250,000 jobs have been created, our unemployment rate is at its lowest point since 2006, the state's Rainy Day Fund has been fully restored, and taxes have been reduced by nearly $3 billion. After leaving behind an $8 billion budget shortfall and 350,000 lost jobs, Democrats have fought Ohio's comeback nearly every step of the way."

Borges, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to the misdemeanor crime of misusing public office after a criminal investigation into influence peddling related to campaign donors when giving out Ohio contracts when he served as chief of staff to then Republican State Treasurer Joe Deters, said voters will have a clear choice in November.

"Do they want to continue the Republican path of job creation, lower taxes and fiscal sanity or do they want to return to the Democratic days of job loss and budget holes? There is still work left to do, but Ohio's Republican office holders have our state headed in the right direction," Borges said in prepared remarks.

Ohio going in the right direction, as Borges claims it is, stands in stark contrast to the views of Ed FitzGerald, who along with his Dayton attorney running mate Sharen Neuhardt said Buckeyes, especially middle-class workers and families, are headed down the wrong path. In comments shared with media Tuesday evening in Columbus, the former FBI agent who was elected Mayor of Lakewood before defeating a field of ten candidates in 2010 to become the first County Executive of Cuyahoga County, Ohio's most populace county, said, "As of tonight, this race is officially between me and Governor Kasich."

Little known outside his home turf in northeast Ohio, FitzGerald said this year's campaign is about making Ohio work for everyone, "not just a small, privileged group of people. It’s time for an Ohio where hard work is rewarded, where we invest in our teachers and students, and where the wealthy pay their fair share."

Democrats and FitzGerald see the last three years as full of unprecedented attacks on workers, seniors, educators, police officers, firefighters, and many more Ohioans. "Ohio’s wealthiest have gotten cushy tax breaks, while the rest of us have been left out and stuck with the bill," he said, adding that a good leader should stand up to this injustice. "But instead, Governor Kasich has facilitated it. I will fight for hard working Ohioans, support our schools, and invest in our towns and cities."

Ahead in the polls and in campaign cash, Gov. Kasich will not want for dollars to spend advertising himself as the a common sense politician who isn't afraid to "shake it up and tell it like it is," a familiar refrain long used by the career politico that appears in recent TV ads that have scrubbed the Republican brand from the ads.

According to a report by Gallup.com from December of 2013, a minority of Americans find Democratic and Republican Parties favorable. Even though Republican Party favorability improved to 32 percent, up from 28-percent, the lowest rating since Gallup started asking the question in 1992, the Democratic Party maintains a 10-percentage-point lead at 42-percent favorability rating, said Frank Newport, Gallup Editor-in-Chief.

FitzGerald sees Kasich as a politician who talks compassion for the less fortunate but who knack for siding with the rich and powerful over his political career is in plain view.

In his comments to supporters at an Election Night even at Ohio Democratic Headquarters in Columbus, the state capital, FitzGerald declared, "Ohio is being run by an administration that is dedicated to serving a small, privileged group of people, and ordinary Ohioans have been left out and stuck with the bill." The most basic question an elected official must answer is, he opined, is "who do you work for?" And it is apparent now for all to see that John Kasich is representing millionaires and billionaires, and telling working families if the top is doing well, then you will eventually."

"The case against John Kasich's destructive policies is strong," the 45-year old father of three said about Ohio's 62-year old governor and father of two. The Democrat said he'll be providing more specifics on his agenda in the coming week but offered some hints. "It starts with a plan to educate our children to compete in the 21st century economy, to promote a safer Ohio, how we can wisely reinvest in our hometown communities, to making college much more affordable, to ensuring Ohio has the strongest k-12 education system in America, and an agenda for urban revitalization and opportunity."

Based on 7,715,103 registered voters, the 1,249,132 voters who turned out today represents 16.19 percent of the electorate. Outstanding are 20,706 absentee ballots and 9,518 outstanding absentee provisional ballots.

In related election news, the AP reports that two Democratic incumbents in the Ohio House have won their primaries after the state party endorsed their challengers. Democratic Reps. John Barnes and Bill Patmon of Cleveland, who have bucked their party's caucus stance on important issues, won their primary fights Tuesday with help from their party.

The race that pitted Rep. Barnes against Jill Miller Zimon, a former Pepper Pike councilwoman, went 6,489 votes for Barnes and 5,575 to Zimon. Rep. Patmon took on Eugene Miller, a former Cleveland city councilman.

Democrats had a baker's dozen of contested House races, which was nearly twice the number for majority Republicans. Meanwhile, three House incumbents—Democrat Zack Milkovich of Barberton and Republicans Peter Beck of Mason and Peter Stautberg of the Cincinnati area—lost primaries. Not one of five Republican incumbents in the Ohio Senate lost to challengers. No sitting Democratic senators had opponents.