By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS — While most of the attention has been on the race for governor, Ohioans will fill state government’s four other elected offices on Tuesday.
In the attorney general’s race, Republican Betty Montgomery is seeking re-election against Democrat Richard Cordray, the former state solicitor. Ms. Montgomery is running on her record of increasing funding for crime fighting and helping local law-enforcement agencies. Mr. Cordray says his opponent has a too-narrow view of the attorney general’s office, and he says he would act as an independent watchdog not beholden to other state officials.
The closest of the races may be for state treasurer, between Summit County Treasurer John Donofrio, a Democrat, and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, a Republican. Mr. Donofrio is running mainly on his experience as a county treasurer for 19 years and his history of innovative programs. Mr. Deters says he can do a better job of handling debt-related issues than his opponent and save money through better management.
The incumbent treasurer, Republican Ken Blackwell, is trying to make a lateral move and become secretary of state, Ohio’s top elections officer. His opponent is state Rep. Charleta Tavares (D., Columbus). She says she will increase voter-registration programs and encourage young people to get involved in the electoral process. To restore faith in politics, Mr. Blackwell has called for lobbyist reform and an end to some forms of political contributions.
State Auditor Jim Petro, a Republican, is seeking re-election against Democrat Louis Strike, a Cincinnati business consultant.
Mr. Petro says he has taken political favoritism and corruption out of the previously sullied office, and has increased the timeliness and effectiveness of audits. Mr. Strike, a certified public accountant, says the state needs a CPA and someone with experience turning around failing businesses as auditor, not a lawyer like Mr. Petro.
The races for auditor and secretary of state are particularly important this year. The winners in those races, along with the governor, will sit on the state Apportionment Board, which after the 2000 census will redraw the state’s political boundaries for General Assembly seats.
The party that wins two of those three statewide races will control the board and be able to draw the lines in ways to help their party throughout the next decade.