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Published: Tuesday, 11/5/2002

Taft wins second term


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Gov. Bob Taft swept to re-election and a drug-treatment issue he opposed failed Tuesday in a third straight statewide election dominated by Republicans.

Meanwhile, former U.S. Rep. James Traficant's jailhouse campaign to return to Congress fell far short and Democrat Tim Ryan will replace him in Congress.

With 72 percent of precincts reporting, Taft led Democrat Tim Hagan with 1,354,545 votes, or 59 percent, to 849,953 votes, or 37 percent, for Hagan.

State Issue 1, which would have required judges to impose treatment over jail time for some nonviolent first- and second-time drug offenders failed. With 67 percent of precincts reporting, the issues trailed with 69 percent against to 31 percent in favor. Taft helped opponents raise at least $750,000.

Taft's win will give the nation its first black female lieutenant governor, Jennette Bradley, 50.

In the race for an open seat on the Ohio Supreme Court, Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor, a Republican, led Democrat Tim Black, a Hamilton County municipal judge, 58 percent to 42 percent with 71 percent of precincts reporting. Also, Republican Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton led Democrat Janet Burnside 56 percent to 44 percent with 71 percent of precincts reporting.

Republicans also retained their hold on executive offices. Jim Petro and Betty Montgomery switched offices, with Petro winning attorney general and Montgomery claiming auditor. Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell also won re-election.

However, incumbent Treasurer Joseph Deters was in a fight with Democratic challenger Mary Boyle. Deters led Boyle 55 percent to 45 percent with 72 percent of precincts reporting.

Democrats made GOP accountability a major issue this year, running as much against the party as its officeholders' records. Republicans argued they have done a good job holding control of the executive branch and there was no reason to vote them out of control.

Hagan presented a sharp contrast to Taft, saying Ohioans were ready for his populist views after 12 years of GOP control of the governor's office. Taft's campaign stressed that he was a good caretaker of Ohio in difficult economic times.

In the election to replace Traficant, who is in a federal prison for bribery and other crimes, Ryan, a state senator, led state Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin 51 percent to 36 percent with 67 percent of precincts reporting. Traficant, running as an independent, trailed with 13 percent.

In southwest Ohio's 3rd District, Republican Mike Turner led Democrat Rick Carne 57 percent to 43 percent with 90 percent of precincts reporting. The seat was vacated by Democrat Tony Hall of Dayton, who joined the Bush administration this summer.

Meanwhile, voters in Cleveland were deciding whether to leave the mayor's office in control of the Ohio's largest school district, with 72,000 students.

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