Ohio Democrats Savor a Big Win Democrats in Ohio are smiling today, one day after their best election in decades. They knocked off a two-term Senate incumbent in Mike DeWine, in addition to capturing the governor's chair, a Republican property for the past 16 years.
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Ohio Democrats Savor a Big Win

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Ohio Democrats Savor a Big Win

Ohio Democrats Savor a Big Win

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Melissa Block.

Ohio was among the states where Democrats made substantial gains last night. In 2004, the Buckeye State clinched the presidency for George W. Bush. Now, just two years later, it's a very different result. Ohioans dumped an incumbent Republican senator, Mike DeWine, and elected their first Democratic governor in 20 years.

From Columbus, NPR's Luke Burbank reports on the Democrats' reversal of fortune.

LUKE BURBANK: Like most of the Democrats who'd partied down last night here at the Capitol Square Hyatt, Melvin Farrell and his wife Marilyn were moving a little slow this morning as they waited for the valet to fetch their car. They'd driven up yesterday from Pitchen, Ohio not wanting to miss what they sensed would be something special.

Mr. MELVIN FARRELL: More than anything, I was here to hopefully have the change, you know. I mean, God knows, we needed one.

BURBANK: The Farrells are like a lot of Ohioans, sort of middle of the road folks who are willing to listen to both sides of most arguments. But Melvin Farrell says the last two years with Republicans running things in Washington and here in Ohio took him to new heights of frustration.

Mr. FARRELL: I'm 70 years old, and I've never seen anything like this in my life, the political people not listening to the everyday people.

BURBANK: Those everyday people, at least the ones who voted Democrat, got through loud and clear last night. A few blocks away from the Hyatt, at the offices of the Ohio Democratic Party, I had to step over a stack of newspapers to talk to the man who had a lot to do with the party's turnaround.

Mr. CHRIS REDFERN (Chairman, Ohio Democratic Party): Usually, my security doesn't let anybody this close to me.

BURBANK: Chris Redfern is chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. He says that since the day after the 2004 election, when President Bush won here, and through the many scandals that have plagued Ohio Republicans, he's been working on a plan to get his state back in the blue column.

Mr. REDFERN: I knew if we set about a new course in Ohio, if we tailored our argument around the issues that mattered most, as Democrats we would win. We would win.

BURBANK: And win they did, with Sherrod Brown unseating Republican incumbent DeWine, electing a Democrat, Zack Space, to fill the seat vacated by disgraced Republican congressman Bob Ney, and sending a Democrat to the governor's mansion.

Mr. REDFERN: We looked for candidates that understood issues that matter on Main Street. Sherrod Brown is perhaps one of the most progressive members of the United States Congress, and he just gave Mike DeWine a drubbing that Mike DeWine won't ever forget.

BURBANK: Brown carried about 55 percent of the vote, which may be a stretch to call a drubbing. Of course, now that the Ohio Democratic Party has the senator and governor that it wanted, the party has to deliver on the promises it made to the voters, voters like Melvin Farrell, still waiting for his car outside the Hyatt.

Mr. FARRELL: I feel great, but I'm going to tell you they need to do the job that needs to be done. That's the big thing, and hopefully they will do it.

BURBANK: Today is a good day for Ohio Democrats, but they could soon learn what Republicans already know. Being the majority party isn't as easy as it looks.

Luke Burbank, NPR News, Columbus.

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