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.
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 detractor. The same strategy helped Republican Troy Balderson win a key U.S. House seat in an August special election, and again Tuesday.
DeWine, 71, has 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, joins other Democrats who seek to capitalize on citizen backlash against Trump.
He has spent the past year touting his record as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a position to which he was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama. He also served a former state treasurer and attorney general.
Cordray’s campaign style, often criticized as bookish and boring, failed to ignite enough fire across the state to defeat a ticket of Republican incumbents — and the defeat had a coattails effect on the entire 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.
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.