8 things to watch in today’s election

Ohio voters head to the polls today in one of the most high-profile Ohio primary elections in years.

There are contested races all over the ballot, from local races to the big-money primaries for governor and U.S. Senate.

Voters will also decide on State Issue 1, a major overhaul to how the state draws congressional district lines.

Check out our online interactive voters guide at Journal-news.com/voterguide to compare the candidates on the issues that matter to you and learn more about the issues on your ballot.

Here’s the top races and issues to watch tonight:

1. Open race for Ohio governor

Both parties have heated primaries. On the Republican side, Attorney General Mike DeWine is running against Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in a race in which both candidates launched millions of dollars in negative ads against the other. Early in the race DeWine was viewed as having an easy path to victory, but some believe the race has tightened.

The Democratic race too is getting a lot of attention, as the party seeks to break the stranglehold Republicans have had on the governor’s office. Ohio has had a Republican governor in 24 of the last 28 years.

The Democratic party’s biggest names — both in Ohio and nationally — are backing former Attorney General Richard Cordray, who recently worked in the Obama Administration as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. His main competition is former presidential candidate, congressman and Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich.

RELATED: Guns, minimum wage top issues in Democratic governor primary

Four others are on the ballot, including Democratic state Sen. Joe Schiavoni and former Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill.

2. Republican fight for U.S. Senate

Political experts expected the November election to be a rematch of 2012 between Sen. Sherrod Brown and State Treasurer Josh Mandel. But, Mandel dropped out of the race earlier this year saying his wife was ill.

Akron-area Congressman Jim Renacci says he was asked by the Trump administration to get out of the race for governor and run for the Senate instead. That move created a battle between two millionaires as Renacci, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, faces Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons. Both Republicans have spent millions on TV ads for the right to take on Brown in November. President Donald Trump was in Cleveland on Saturday stumping for Renacci.

3. Butler County Commissioner: 2 candidates who have never lost

Republican incumbent Cindy Carpenter and challenger Lee Wong, a current West Chester Twp. Trustee, are two of the GOP’s hardest-working campaigners — both have reputations for knocking on thousands of doors and investing hours to campaigning. And neither has ever lost an election. The winner of today’s primary will face former Middletown vice mayor Dora Bronston, the lone Democrat seeking the office, in November.

RELATED: Butler County Commission race features two candidates who have never lost

4. Statehouse race could see incumbent out

Incumbents don’t usually have problems winning re-election primaries, but Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, is being challenged by two candidates and did not secure the Butler County GOP’s endorsement. Former state lawmaker Greg Jolivette and Hamilton philanthropist Sara Carruthers both say Retherford has not done what is needed for the district, which includes the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield, Ross Twp., and portions of Fairfield, Hanover and St. Clair townships. Retherford has been defending his record on the campaign trail, hoping to further distance himself from an embarassing 2017 OVI arrest.

RELATED: Jobs, opioid epidemic highlight of forum with 51st Ohio Statehouse candidates

There is also a Republican primary in the State Senate 7th District in Warren County. Republicans have state House primaries in districts 43, 62, 84 and 85, while Democrats have primaries in districts 39 and 40.

5. State Issue 1 

It’s rare that both sides agree on anything in Ohio, but Republicans and Democrats in large part are backing passage of State Issue 1. The constitutional amendment would change the way the state draws congressional districts with the goal of making them more competitive.

6. Warren County Commissioner faces strong challenge

Warren County Commissioner Tom Grossmann is facing a challenge from former state Rep. Ron Maag, who is well known in the county and has a big cash advantage.

RELATED: Warren County Commission race heats up

7.Local levies 

Voters in Milford and Morgan townships and the city of Oxford will be considering tax levies.

Morgan Twp. residents are being asked to increase the millage to for an EMS levy that pays for the part-time salaries of firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. Trustees voted to renew the 2.5-mill levy and increase it by 0.5 mills. This means the requested 5-year, 3-mill levy, if approved, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home will pay $87.52 a year in property taxes due to this levy, an increase of $17.50.

Trustees in Milford Twp. are asking voters to approve a new 5-year, 2-mill levy that will help pave the township’s 33 miles of roads. Residents of a $100,000 home would pay $70 a year in new taxes if voters approve this levy request.

Residents in Oxford are being asked to pay for a 10-year, 3.25-mill levy to help pay for the construction of nearly 12 miles of trails in the next phase of the Oxford Area Trails project. City Manager Doug Elliott said this is the first time in his 10-year tenure Oxford has placed a property tax levy on the ballot. The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $113.75 a year in new property taxes.

In Warren County, Lebanon and Carlisle voters have renewal school levies on the ballot.

8. Races for Congress shaping up

The outcomes of the primaries likely won’t be surprises tonight, but local races for Congress will get a lot of attention in November.

Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents Warren County and the Cincinnati area, should not have any problem defeating his Republican challenger, Samual Ronan. But the race this fall will be one to watch. Democratic Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Purveval raised more than $600,000 in the first quarter, so both sides should have money to spend on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Democrats in the 8th Congressional District have a primary Tuesday to decide who will take on Republican Rep. Warren Davidson this fall.

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