CLEVELAND: Incumbent Sherrod Brown won re-election in Ohio’s hotly contested U.S. Senate campaign, and early results showed a lead for another Democrat in a big race, President Barack Obama.
Brown defeated GOP challenger Josh Mandel, the state treasurer, despite an onslaught of attacks from conservative outside groups.
Three congressional Republicans in Ohio also won re-election to the U.S. House, including Speaker John Boehner.
There were long lines and heavy turnout in some areas but few Election Day problems reported in the swing state after months of seemingly nonstop campaign visits and ads, much of it for the race to the White House.
With about 16 percent of the vote reported, Obama was ahead of Republican Mitt Romney by about 169,000 votes in unofficial results as the Democrat tried to carry the state a second time.
In suburban Cleveland, Collette Krantz, 82, said health care was the top issue on her mind as she voted for Obama at a college community in Berea. She wondered what to expect, especially on health care, from a Romney administration.
“I think under Romney there would be many changes,” she said. “We truly don’t know what the heck they are about.”
Christine McCauley, a 46-year-old Democrat who voted for Romney, said she isn’t satisfied with the economy.
“I still think it’s stagnant,” said McCauley, a stay-at-home mom from Berea. “I think it hurts household values, it hurts education, it hurts everybody more when you have people not working.”
Obama’s bailout of the auto industry was popular with Ohio voters, with most saying they approved of the decision. Voters looking for a strong leader and someone who shared their values went with Romney, according to preliminary exit poll results.
Matt Wieczorek, a 25-year-old elementary school science teacher who voted Tuesday morning, said he’s a registered Republican but voted for Obama. He said he thinks the president is a better choice to keep education and the economy moving forward.
“We have seen growth in the economy, maybe not as fast as we want it to be, but Obama has made a difference, and I don’t want to see that growth come to an end,” Wieczorek said.
Ken Armentrout, a 77-year-old retired truck driver, stopped into a diner for breakfast after casting his vote for Romney in rural Pataskala, east of Columbus. He said the economy hasn’t come around fast enough, and Romney should get a chance. But there are other reasons, too.
“I like his morals,” Armentrout said. “I like his view of marriage — one man and one woman. That’s a big one with me. Obama has been kind of wishy washy on that one.”
Turnout was expected to be crucial, with Obama looking for big totals from northeastern Ohio and the state’s largest cities, and Romney hoping for blowouts in the suburbs and rural towns.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of major shifts, so what you’re going to be looking at is the margins,” said longtime Ohio State University political scientist Herb Asher.
Ohioans also were asked to change the way districts are redrawn in a statewide ballot issue. Issue 2 proposed that a 12-member commission of state residents re-draw congressional and legislative maps every 10 years.
Issue 1 asked voters if they’d like an Ohio Constitution convention to make changes but it has drawn little organized attention either way.
Ohioans also had three state Supreme Court justices on the ballot.