14-May-12 Ohio Business Community Applauds May Election Results

Last week’s primary election was generally positive for free enterprise in Ohio. Of the 21 pro-business candidates endorsed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee (OCCPaC), 20 won their races and will now compete in the General Election. Additionally, State Issue 1 passed easily with 65 percent of the vote.

The endorsed candidates who claimed victory were bolstered by the chamber’s active involvement in their races, with all winning by margins of at least eight points. Rep. Peter Stautberg, whose district covers eastern Hamilton County, was the sole endorsed candidate to come up short, losing to former state representative Tom Brinkman 54-46 percent. The race was a rematch from the 2012 primary, which Rep. Stautberg won easily with 61 percent of the vote. Over twice as many ballots were cast two years ago though, and it was the low turnout that helped push Brinkman over the top this time.

Voter turnout was low across the state, with only about 17 percent of registered voters casting ballots. Though most incumbents were able to fend off challenges, there were two who lost, in addition to Rep. Stautberg. Republican Rep. Pete Beck, who has been indicted on 69 felony charges, took less than 10 percent of the vote in a three-way primary won by real estate developer Paul Zeltwanger. The only other incumbent to lose was Democrat Rep. Zack Milkovich, who lost to assistant Akron prosecutor Greta Johnson. That’s the second loss in a row for Rep. Milkovich, who had made an unsuccessful bid for Barberton clerk of courts last November.

Though he didn’t lose, Rep. Rex Damschroder is another incumbent who will not be returning to the General Assembly next year. He was forced to withdraw from the race due to faulty petitions, leaving no GOP candidates on the ballot and resulting in an unusual write-in contest featuring three aspirants. Car dealer Bill Reineke defeated Rep. Damschroder’s wife Rhonda to win the nomination.

Another important result for Ohio’s economy was the passage of State Issue 1, renewal of the State Capital Improvements Program. The ballot issue received an abundance of support from many organizations around the state. It authorizes $1.875 billion toward infrastructure improvement and repair projects across Ohio over the next 10 years. The program has been around for 27 years, having already financed 11,500 projects that are critical for economic growth and development.

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