Voters in Ohio and Michigan go to the polls today to decide races for governor and other statewide administrative offices, the makeup of their state legislatures and top courts, and to decide the fate of state and local measures and races.
Voter turnout in Lucas County is projected to be 47 percent, about what it was four years ago when candidates for governor last appeared on the ballot, according to county elections director Joe Kidd.
His estimate was based on a number of factors, he said, including the number of absentee ballot requests that had flooded into the office, projected weather conditions, and the number of closely contested races on the ballot.
Turnout in Ohio is predicted to be 48 percent, while 50 percent of Michigan voters are expected at the polls, according to the secretary of state in both states.
Polls in Ohio open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. In Michigan, voting begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 8 p.m.
In Lucas County, voters will choose either to re-elect 17-year Commissioner Sandy Isenberg, a Democrat, or to replace her with Republican challenger Maggie Thurber, the Toledo clerk of court.
Voters in the Toledo Public School District face a 28-year, 4.99-mill levy request that would cost the owner of a $75,000 house $115 per year and would fund the replacement of 57 schools in the district, and the renovation of 12 more.
Statewide in Ohio, voters face a constitutional amendment that would make more lenient the state's drug laws governing nonviolent first and second-time offenders.
Michigan voters will decide four statewide measures. Proposal 02-1 would make several changes to state elections laws, the most notable of which is a ban on straight party voting in partisan elections.
Proposal 02-2 would authorize the sale of bonds to finance public improvements, including sewer and storm-water drainage systems.
Proposal 02-3 would amend the state constitution to give state classified employees the right to collective bargaining with binding arbitration, while Proposal 02-4 is an amendment that would reallocate funds paid to the state under a settlement with tobacco companies to health care agencies and anti-smoking programs.
Ohio Gov. Bob Taft is up for re-election, running against Democratic challenger Tim Hagan, a former Cuyahoga County commissioner. Mr. Taft has held double-digit leads in public opinion polls.
Four other statewide offices are up for grabs. Republicans, who hold all statewide nonjudicial offices, will defend them against a new slate of Democrats. Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell is challenged by Democrat Bryan Flannery, a state representative from Northeast Ohio. Treasurer Joe Deters in challenged by Democrat Mary Boyle, a former state representative and Cuyahoga County commissioner.
Republicans James Petro, the state auditor, and Betty Montgomery, the attorney general, are attempting to swap offices because of term limits. Mr. Petro is opposed by Democratic state Sen. Leigh Herington, while Ms. Montgomery is challenged by Democrat Helen Smith.
Two seats on the Ohio Supreme Court are up for grabs. Republican Justice Evelyn Stratton is challenged by Democrat Janet Burnside, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge, while Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor is running against Hamilton County Municipal Judge Tim Black for an open seat on the court.
Michigan is poised to make history, as Democrat Jennifer Granholm leads Republican Dick Posthumus in the race for governor in public opinion polls. If she prevails, she will become the first woman governor in the state's history and will break a Republican lock on the state's top office the GOP has held for 12 years.
Locally, Ms. Isenberg and Ms. Thurber continued their aggressive campaign schedules yesterday.
Ms. Thurber campaigned with Gov. Taft, who returned to town. They toured Toledo Metal Spinning company on Clinton Street in West Toledo, a metal fabrication plant that the governor said exemplifies his idea of a progressive manufacturing plant.
Ms. Thurber said she was pleased “at the attention that has been focused on Lucas County in the last 90 days by statewide candidates. It is phenomenal. It has re-energized the Republican Party, and win, lose, or draw, we are now a force to be reckoned with.”
Ms. Thurber spent part of the afternoon rush hour waving to motorists exiting the downtown area on the Anthony Wayne Trail.
Ms. Isenberg began a 14-hour day through Toledo with a 6 a.m. visit with Toledo city refuse workers, waving to them as their convoy of trucks pulled out of the city lot to start their days.
From there she visited with reporters, party volunteers, auto workers, bowlers, bingo players, and fellow candidate U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur - part of a frantic schedule in the closing days of the campaign.
“I'm a little tired, but I feel good,” she said with a smile before grasping a campaign sign and waving to Jeep workers arriving for the plant's second shift.
Voters will decide the winners of several congressional seats today. Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo) defends her seat against Republican Ed Emery in U.S. House District 9, while Rep. Paul Gillmor (R., Old Fort) is challenged by Democrat Roger Anderson of Bowling Green and independent John “Jack” Green of Napoleon. In Ohio's 4th District, Republican Rep. Michael Oxley (R., Findlay) defends his seat against Democrat Jim Clark.
In Michigan's congressional District 7, Rep. Nick Smith (R., Addison) is challenged by Democrat Mike Simpson and Libertarian Ken Procter. In District 15, John Dingell (D., Dearborn) the longest serving member in the U.S. House, is challenged by Martin Kaltenbach, a Republican, and Gregory Stempfle, a Libertarian.
All 99 Ohio House seats are up for election, including District 6, where Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) is challenged by Democrat Scott McCarty. In Lucas County's District 46, Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) is challenged by Democrat Abbey Mortemore, and Democrat Peter Ujvagi faces Republican Allen Roy for the District 47 seat, which is open.
In District 48, appointee Edna Brown (D., Toledo) is challenged by Independent June Boyd and Republican Cathleen Voyles-Baden.
Incumbent Democrat Jeanine Perry of Toledo will defend her District 49 seat against Republican Joe Lipinski.
In Michigan, all 38 senators and 110 representatives are up for election. In Michigan Senate District 16, state Rep. Cameron Brown, (R., Sturgis) is battling Democrat Dudley Spade for an open seat.
In District 17, incumbent Republican Bev Hammerstrom is challenged by Democrat Sharon Lemasters.
In Michigan's House District 55, Democrat Gail Hauser-Hurley is running against Republican Matt Milosch; in District 56, Republican Randy Richardville faces Democrat Joshua Sacks; Democrat Doug Spade is challenged by Republican Fred Gallagher in District 57, and in District 58, Republican Bruce Caswell is challenged by Annette Magda, a Democrat.