Cleveland Democrat Ed FitzGerald has won the Democratic primary for governor, setting up a high-stakes showdown this fall with incumbent Republican John Kasich.
FitzGerald's defeat Tuesday of Larry Ellis Ealy was expected.
The 45-year-old FitzGerald, of Lakewood, is county executive in Cuyahoga County, the state's most populous Democratic stronghold. The 51-year-old Ealy, of Trotwood, is a frequent litigator against government entities.
In his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for governor of Ohio, FitzGerald sounded a theme familiar to Ohioans from the 2011 year-long battle over Senate Bill 5.
"The state under John Kasich has just been headed in the wrong direction," said FitzGerald. "If you're one of the workers who John Kasich belittled and tried to take away your rights during Senate Bill 5, I spoke up for you then, and I will again. And thousands of police officers, firefighters, veterans or other public safety workers, we will respect your service."
Kasich signed the controversial collective bargaining bill in early 2011 setting off a political battle that split the state and resulted in the law being overturned. It was considered a major victory for unions and Democrats.
"I have a vision for a new Ohio and it is an Ohio that works for everyone," FitzGerald told a crowd of supporters in Columbus. "It starts with inclusiveness, embracing diversity, making voting easier not more difficult, saying if you love someone that government has no voice if you should marry, and that what happens between a doctor and her patient is not at all a place for a governor to interfere."
Gov. Kasich's campaign told 10TV he early voted two weeks ago and did not make any public appearance tonight.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Kasich said, "The Governor's record of creating jobs, balancing budgets and cutting taxes resonates with Ohioans across party lines and we look forward to talking about this strong record all the way to November."
Kasich has amassed $8.5 million for the fall campaign.