COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine defeated Obama-era consumer protection chief Richard Cordray in the race for Ohio governor on Tuesday, leading a GOP sweep of statewide nonjudicial offices and dashing Democrats' hopes of riding an anti-Trump wave into power in a key swing state.
DeWine, one of the state's most well-known politicians, beat Cordray to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. John Kasich. He was bolstered by strong support across rural Ohio as Cordray did best in the state's urban Democratic strongholds.
"Tonight's victory is about moving Ohio forward," he told supporters Tuesday night. "We are energized by the support you've shown us, and we will not let you down. As governor, I am committed to bringing our state together and creating an Ohio that works for everyone."
DeWine's win followed an 11th-hour effort to embrace both Republican President Donald Trump and Kasich, one of the party's most vocal Trump detractors. The same strategy helped Republican Troy Balderson win a key central Ohio U.S. House seat in August and again Tuesday.
DeWine, 71, had to walk a careful line on both the governor and the president, instead relying on his long record of public service as a former lieutenant governor, congressman and U.S. senator.
Cordray, 59, emphasized his record as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a position to which he was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama.
He also hammered DeWine on the issue of insurance protections for pre-existing conditions, in a year Democrats believed would be dominated by health care issues and a backlash against Trump.
Cordray expressed disappointment in his loss Tuesday, while thanking his supporters for a race well run.
"You hosted us in your labor halls, you welcomed us into your churches and your classrooms," he said. "We got in this fight for you, and we have fought for you all the way."
Cordray's style was called boring at times, and his defeat appeared to have a coattails effect on the entire statewide ticket.
Republican Auditor Dave Yost defeated former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach for attorney general; Republican state Sen. Frank LaRose took secretary of state over Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Clyde; Republican state Rep. Keith Faber became auditor over former U.S. Rep. Zack Space; and GOP state Rep. Robert Sprague, of Findlay, defeated Democrat Rob Richardson, a Cincinnati attorney, for treasurer.
Democrats' were buoyed by three wins Tuesday. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, and two Democratic candidates for Ohio Supreme Court — Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart — won their races.
It was DeWine and Cordray's third career match-up. DeWine defeated Cordray in a close race for state attorney general in 2010. And Cordray lost a four-way Democratic primary in 2000 for the seat held by DeWine, who was in his first Senate term.