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Ohio Democrats win U.S. House seats

By JULIE CARR SMYTH, AP Statehouse Correspondent

COLUMBUS, Nov. 5, 2008 (AP): Control of Ohio's congressional delegation stood at a tie Wednesday, after Democrats picked up two seats but lost an expensive bid for a third.

Republicans held onto retiring U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce’s central Ohio district, where GOP state Sen. Steve Stivers defeated Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy by 48 percent to 44 percent in Tuesday's election. The Democratic wins bring the delegation's make-up to 9-9 tie, from its current 11-7 Republican majority.

Enthusiasm for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama hurt long-time Republican incumbent Steve Chabot, who had represented a heavily black Cincinnati-area district for 14 years.

Marcy Kaptur

Fifty-two percent of Hamilton County voters supported Obama, a significant shift for a Republican-leaning county that supported George W. Bush in 2004.

``The Democrats were saying about my district in particular that it would see a significant Obama factor,'' Chabot said. ``Apparently, they were right.''

Aside from Republican Chabot, all of Ohio’s congressional incumbents won re-election—that included Democrats Marcy Kaptur (District 9; received over 75% of the vote), Betty Sutton (District 13; received over 64% of the vote), and Cleveland Democrats Dennis Kucinich (District 10; received over 56% of the vote), a one-time presidential contender, and Marcia Fudge (District 11; received over 85% of the vote), recently elected to replace the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Democrat Tim Ryan (District 17) was also re-elected.

Democrat John Boccieri, a state senator and Iraqi war veteran, picked up the northeast Ohio seat long held by U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula, a Republican who is retiring after 35 years. Boccieri defeated state Sen. Kirk Schuring in the 16th District with 54 percent of the vote.

``It's easy to say it's attributed to a lot of spending, because we were heavily outspent in the race,'' said Schuring campaign spokesman Anthony Conchel. ``But the political climate obviously had some bearing on it.''

Republican state Sen. Steve Austria won the western Ohio race to replace U.S. Rep. David Hobson, retaining for the GOP another seat left open by retirement. Austria defeated Yellow Springs lawyer Sharen Swartz Neuhardt for Ohio's 7th District with more than 58 percent of the vote.

Austria said he believed voters enthused by Democrats were willing to vote for a tested Republican.

``I represent about half the district now, so they know Steve Austria,'' he said. ``They know I'll work very hard on those issues that are important to the 7th district. The No. 1 issue is the economy.''

For Kilroy, Tuesday marked a bitter ending to a long fight. The Franklin County commissioner lost to Pryce in 2006 by just 1,066 votes. Initial results that year were subject to an automatic recount because they were within half a percentage point.

This year, a pair of challengers—one independent, one Libertarian—won 8.9 percent of the vote in the closely divided district.





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