March 7, 2012
JULIE CARR SMYTH
COLUMBUS — Ohio Republicans picked a first-term state treasurer as their U.S. Senate nominee Tuesday and delivered easy victories to a host of GOP congressional incumbents, including House Speaker John Boehner.
Treasurer Josh Mandel easily won a six-way Republican primary. He will face Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown in November.
Veteran U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich were jockeying for the lead in a closely watched battle for a newly drawn congressional district linking Toledo and Cleveland along the Lake Erie shoreline. Kaptur had a 16-point lead with 62 percent of the votes counted. Joseph “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher was trailing his opponent, Toledo real estate agent Steve Kraus, on the Republican side of the race.
In a new Columbus district, former state Rep. Joyce Beatty was holding a slim lead over former U.S. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy with three-fourths of the votes counted. Two other primary contenders were trailing.
The Democratic faceoffs resulted from a revamped congressional map that shrunk the state by two congressional districts, from 18 to 16. Under legislative Republicans who controlled the process, only four of the districts were drawn to favor Democrats.
Republicans avoided their own primary in southwest Ohio, with U.S. Rep. Steve Austria deciding not to run again in a district shared with U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, the former mayor of Dayton. Turner joined Boehner among incumbents who won their primaries Tuesday. Others included Pat Tiberi, Steve Stivers, Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson, Bob Latta, and Marcia Fudge.
Also victorious in his primary was former U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, who lost his bid for a third term in 2010.
In southwest Ohio, U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt was trailing rival Brad Wenstrup, an Iraq war veteran. Wenstrup lost in a close race for Cincinnati mayor in 2009.
Mandel said he was honored to win the Senate primary.
“We look forward to putting together a coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents to win in November, and go shake up Washington,” he said.
Ohio Democrats have criticized Mandel all year, including saying he has neglected his job as treasurer to run for Senate. Mandel points to the treasury’s positive fiscal performance as evidence he was paying attention.