COLUMBUS — The results are not yet official, but the Democratic challenger in a tight race for the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday conceded the seat to his opponent.
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Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O’Donnell said in an email to supporters that the latest vote tallies show he can’t win the race at this point.
Judge O’Donnell said he was disappointed but had called his opponent, Cincinnati appellate Judge Pat Fischer, a Republican, and congratulated him on a “hard-fought win.
“Given how close this race was I felt it was important that every vote be counted. So, with your assistance, I made every effort to ensure the result was legitimate,” Judge O’Donnell said in the email.
Judge Fischer confirmed in an e-mail to supporters he'd spoken to Judge O’Donnell after Ohio's 88 counties completed their count of outstanding provisional and absentee ballots on Wednesday.
“I'd like to thank Judge John O'Donnell, and I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with him today,” he said. “He ran a good campaign and I wish him the very best in the future. Now it’s time to get to work. During the campaign I pledged that I would be a fair and impartial Justice and I will live up to that pledge to you each day that I serve.”
Republicans retain control of the state’s high court by a 6-1 margin. This completes across-the-board Election Day losses for Democrats at the statewide level.
After all the unofficial votes had been counted on election night, Judge Fischer led Judge O'Donnell in Ohio by a little more than 24,000 votes, or 0.62 percent. But there were still roughly 200,000 provisional ballots, the ballots of last resort cast when voters' eligibility is in question, and last-minute absentee ballot arrivals to be counted.
Wednesday was the deadline for boards of election to send their final counts to Secretary of State Jon Husted, but the official tally will not be announced until next week.
Judge O'Donnell apparently saw that the preliminary numbers were not going to put him over the top.
With the additional votes counted on Wednesday in Lucas County, Judge O’Donnell increased his lead in Lucas County over Judge Fischer by 633 votes.
In all, Republicans held on to three Supreme Court seats on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Judge Fischer's Republican colleague on the 1st District Court of Appeals, Judge Pat DeWine, defeated Democratic northeast Ohio appellate Judge Cynthia Rice. Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor was uncontested in her bid for a final six-year term.
Judicial candidates run without partisan labels on the general election ballot.
Staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.
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