COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Primary voters around Ohio were deciding Tuesday whether a number of incumbent Republican lawmakers will keep their seats, and if taxpayers should continue to pay for a state program for repairs and upgrades to roads and bridges.
No voting issues were reported to state officials on Tuesday morning.
“Everything seems to be going smoothly,” Ohio Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Matt McClellan said. He had no information about turnout, which is expected to be light.
Five GOP incumbents in the Ohio Senate have challengers, though no Democratic incumbents do. Democrats have 13 contested primary races for seats in the Ohio House, while majority Republicans have almost twice as many.
In the race for governor, the Democratic leader of the state’s most populous county was looking past a little-known Dayton-area activist to take on Gov. John Kasich in November. Most observers believe Larry Ellis Ealy of Trotwood has little chance against Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the Democrats’ endorsed candidate.
Marylyn Brengelman, a 66-year-old retiree who voted in Cincinnati, said she likes Kasich because “he’s done a good job overall.”
“I just voted Republican down the line,” she said. “I’d like to boot everyone out of Washington and get a fresh start, but that’s not an option.”
Rick Pender, a 65-year-old Cincinnati resident and fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, said he voted for Fitzgerald.
“I hope the Democrats in Ohio get their act together,” he said soon after the polls opened. “It seems the Republicans are in a strong position. I’m just hopeful the Democrats can have a good ticket and do better at becoming well-known to voters.”
Pender said the ultimate focus should be on the economy and job creation.
“That’s been Kasich’s strength, whether you agree with him or not,” he said. “It still needs to improve, especially with employment.”
Jim Flynn, a semiretired executive recruiter from Toledo, voted in the Democratic primary for governor but had trouble for a moment remembering FitzGerald’s name. He admitted he didn’t know much about him.
Flynn normally leans toward Democrats but said he’s been impressed by Kasich’s first term. “He’s been a pleasant surprise,” he said. “I kind of like him, kind of.”
Kasich would get his vote right now over FitzGerald, Flynn said.
The biggest issue on his mind is still unemployment, even though it has gotten better, he said.
Voters also were picking which U.S. House candidates will run in the fall; all 16 incumbents are seeking re-election.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner of West Chester is expected to win his bid for a 13th term representing southwestern Ohio, despite unhappiness among some GOP voters about the federal deficit and immigration. The Republican faces two tea party opponents, high school teacher J.D. Winteregg and businessman Eric Gurr in the 8th District.
State Rep. Peter Beck of Mason, who faces felony charges, is among the 15 Republican incumbents in the Ohio House trying to defend their seats. Beck is accused of misleading investors about a company’s financial status and using their money for personal gain, allegations he denies.
The election will also determine the outcome of one statewide ballot issue, along with about 600 local issues.
Voters will choose whether to renew a public works program that funds repairs and upgrades to roads, bridges and other local infrastructure. The ballot issue would allow the state to borrow $1.875 billion over 10 years through the issuance of general obligation bonds.
Scott Fettig, a 39-year-old newscast director who was at a Cincinnati precinct with his 4- and 5-year-old sons, said he voted for it.
“It’s important to do something with infrastructure and issuing bonds is probably better than collecting tolls,” he said.
Associated Press writers Amanda Myers in Cincinnati and John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.