The Spectrum

Year in review: A look back at the changes 2018 brought to Ohio politics

COLUMBUS (WCMH) - 2018 was a wild year in politics and that set up some big changes in Ohio.

From the men and women in public office to the general outlook of the state, this year marked several shifts in an evolving political landscape.

DeWine, Republicans defeat Democrats in statewide races

In 2019, a new man will take his seat in the governor’s mansion. Governor-elect Mike DeWine beat former consumer watchdog Richard Cordray in November’s election. More voters than ever before cast their ballot for governor last month in Ohio.

DeWine will serve as the state’s 70th governor after spending eight years as the Ohio Attorney General. Prior to that, he served two terms in the United States Senate and four years in the House of Representatives. All that political experience is expected to help DeWine lead a politically divided Ohio in a matter of weeks.

“I understand the divide, I can see the results, but look, we need to be Ohioans,” DeWine said in a one-on-one interview with NBC4. “But look, we need to be Ohioans. And what divides us is so much less than what unites us, and that’s going to be my attitude.”

So far, DeWine is building a diverse staff to keep that attitude.

“We’ll have strong people and people who have the ability to come in and tell me ‘You’re wrong’ or ‘I disagree with you’ or ‘You need to go in this direction,’” he said at a press conference after the election.

Brown holds onto Senate seat, hints at presidential run

DeWine’s victory and a GOP sweep of all statewide offices show Ohio may be turning a bit redder, but there was something for Democrats to celebrate on election night — Senator Sherrod Brown held onto his seat in Congress.

“We will show America how we celebrate the dignity of work, how we honor organized labor and all workers,” Brown said after declaring victory on election night. “That is the message coming out of Ohio in 2018 and that is the blueprint for America in 2020.”

The progressive democrat has been hinting at a run for the White House in 2020 in what could be a crowded field.

Kasich’s term ends, but he doesn’t rule out primary challenge

Outgoing Republican Governor John Kasich also isn’t shying away from questions about a primary challenge to President Donald Trump.

“All of my options are on the table, and that would include what the financial challenges are wand what the prospects of winning are,” Kasich told NBC4’s Colleen Marshall.  “We’re kind of watching the landscape and we will see.”

The longest road to elected office this cycle was in Ohio’s 12th congressional district. After nine terms in Congress, Pat Tiberi left office in January. Then-State Senator Troy Balderson, a Republican, and Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor, a Democrat, squared off twice in three months to fill Tiberi’s seat. Balderson won the special election in a tight race and widened his margin of victory during the general election in November.

Scandals in and out of the Statehouse

2018 was not a year without scandal on the state level. After failing to recoup $60 million in disputing funding in 2017 the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, also known as ECOT, announced in January it would close after losing its sponsor.

The investigation into ECOT lasted for months, and in July, State Auditor Dave Yost announced the online school paid students to attend graduation and take state tests.

There was scandal at the Ohio Statehouse, too. In April, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger announced he was resigning from office amid talk of an FBI investigation. Representative Ryn Smith took over as Ohio’s House Speaker.

“We’re going to come back here tomorrow as we’ve talked about and get back to doing the people’s work and get back to work and pass some bills,” Smith said at the time.

Federal agents raided Rosenberger’s home weeks later, confiscating records pertaining to potential bribes and kickbacks surrounding payday lending legislation. U.S. Attorneys say they sought evidence that could lead to extortion and bribery.

Outside of the statehouse, a former and now-deceased Ohio State University doctor was accused of sexually abusing 150 former students. Richard Strauss was employed by the university from 1979 through 1997 and alleged victims say the doctor inappropriately touched them when they were OSU athletes. Strauss took his own life in 2005.

In the wake of the allegations coming to light, some victims have pushed to eliminate the statute of limitations on Strauss’ alleged crimes. Others are suing the university, saying the university knew and did nothing about the alleged abuse.

Even Rep. Jim Jordan got wrapped up in the accusations. Jordan, an assistant coach with the wrestling program in the late 80s and early 90s, was accused of being aware of the abuse. Jordan has denied those claims.


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