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10 things to watch in today’s Ohio election

Ohio voters head to the polls today in one of the most high-profile Ohio primary elections in years.

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There are contested races all over the ballot, from local races to the big-money primaries for governor and U.S. Senate.

Voters will also decide on State Issue 1, a major overhaul to how the state draws congressional district lines. All told, more than 80 races and issues are on the ballot throughout the Dayton region.

Check out our online interactive voters guide at vote.daytondailynews.com to compare the candidates on the issues that matter to you and learn more about the issues on your ballot.

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Here’s the top races and issues to watch Tuesday night:

1. Open race for Ohio governor

Both parties have heated primaries. On the Republican side, Attorney General Mike DeWine is running against Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in a race in which both candidates launched millions of dollars in negative ads against the other. Early in the race DeWine was viewed as having an easy path to victory, but some believe the race has tightened. 

RELATED: GOP fight for governor turns personal, nasty

The Democratic race too is getting a lot of attention, as the party seeks to break the stranglehold Republicans have had on the governor’s office. Ohio has had a Republican governor in 24 of the last 28 years.

The Democratic party’s biggest names — both in Ohio and nationally — are backing former Attorney General Richard Cordray, who recently worked in the Obama Administration as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. His main competition is former presidential candidate, congressman and Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich.

RELATED: Guns, minimum wage top issues in Democratic governor primary

Four others are on the ballot, including Democratic state Sen. Joe Schiavoni and former Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill.

2.Republican race for the U.S. Senate

Political experts expected the November election to be a rematch of 2012 between Sen. Sherrod Brown and State Treasurer Josh Mandel. But, Mandel dropped out of the race earlier this year saying his wife was ill.

WHIO Reports US Senate Race March 11 2018

Akron-area Congressman Jim Renacci says he was asked by the Trump administration to get out of the race for governor and run for the Senate instead. That move created a battle between two millionaires as Renacci, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, faces Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons. Both Republicans have spent millions on TV ads for the right to take on Brown in November. President Donald Trump was in Cleveland Saturday stumping for Renacci.

RELATED: U.S. Senate candidates fight for Trump voters

3. Dayton to get new commissioner

The resignation of longtime Dayton Commissioner Joey Williams, just months after being re-elected in November, forced a special election to fill the remainder of his term.

Daryl Ward running for Dayton Commission

Pastor and community activist Darryl Fairchild, who nearly won a commission race in 2015, is making his third run for a commission seat. The Democratic Party is backing Omega Baptist Church Pastor Daryl Ward for the seat.

VOTERS GUIDE: Compare the Dayton Commission candidates on the issues

Darryl Fairchild running for Dayton Commission

4. Expensive, competitive and bizarre statehouse races

Races for the Ohio House don’t generally get a lot of attention, but that’s not the case this election.

In Greene County state Rep. Rick Perales is facing a Republican challenge from Jocelyn Smith, who has accused Perales of forcefully kissing, choking and fondling her in 2015. Perales denies her accusations, but admits he had an “inappropriate” texting relationship with her. He has filed an extortion complaint against Smith, who told Perales to drop out of the race or she would release more sexually-explicit text messages she says prove they had a physical relationship.

Rick Perales and Jocelyn Smith

RELATED: Salacious allegations have dominated local statehouse race

One race that could be competitive is in the south Dayton suburbs near the Dayton Mall, where state Rep. Niraj Antani is facing primary challenges from Miamisburg Vice Mayor Sarah Clark and Marcus Rech.

RELATED: South Dayton suburban state House race one to watch

It will come as a surprise to many that the most expensive local race for the state House is in Miami and Darke counties, where an open seat in a strong Republican district has led to a four-way battle.

Jena Powell, George Lovett, John “Bud” O’Brien and J.D. Winteregg

Jena Powell, George Lovett, John “Bud” O’Brien and J.D. Winteregg have spent a total of nearly a quarter of a million dollars on the race to replace state Rep. Steve Huffman, who is stepping down to run for the state Senate.

There is also a Republican primary in the State Senate 7th District in Warren County. Republicans have state House primaries in districts 43, 62, 84 and 85, while Democrats have primaries in districts 39 and 40.

RELATED: Miami-Darke County statehouse race most expensive in region

5. State Issue 1

It’s rare that both sides agree on anything in Ohio, but Republicans and Democrats in large part are backing passage of State Issue 1. The constitutional amendment would change the way the state draws congressional districts with the goal of making them more competitive. 

6. Montgomery County primaries for open seat

Democratic County Commissioner Dan Foley decided to not run for re-election and is running instead for the 43rd state House seat. That created an opening on the commission for a seat Republicans have come close to winning in recent years. Foley barely won re-election in 2010 and 2014 when Republicans were strong statewide.

Facing off on the Republican side are former Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell, former Miami Twp. Trustee Bob Matthews and current Miami Twp. Trustee Doug Barry. Leitzell and Matthews came close to winning commission seats in 2016.

On the Democratic side, County Treasurer Carolyn Rice is facing a primary challenge from former Clayton Councilman Don Shaffer.

RELATED: 2 Democrats running for county commission

RELATED: 3 on GOP primary ballot for county commission

7. Warren County Commissioner faces strong challenge

Incumbents don’t usually have problems winning re-election primaries, but Warren County Commissioner Tom Grossmann is facing a challenge from former state Rep. Ron Maag, who is well known in the county and has a big cash advantage.

RELATED: Warren County Commission race heats up

8. Washington Twp. levies and issues

How the Hithergreen property will be developed is the hot-button topic on the minds of residents heading to the polls. Issue 15, a rezoning referendum, will sort out what type of development occurs on the land.

Township voters will also decide on a renewal for a fire/EMS levy and a recreation levy that would increase the millage from 0.7 to 1 mills.

Related: More details on Washington Twp. issues

9. School levies in Yellow Springs, Carlisle and Lebanon

Unlike recent elections, there are not as many school levies on local ballots as usual.

Voters in Yellow Springs face two taxes on the same ballot issue — a 37-year, 4.7-mill bond issue that would cost property owners $164.50 a year on $100,000 worth of property — and a 0.25 percent income tax increase.

RELATED: More on the Yellow Springs levy

In Lebanon and Carlisle, voters have renewal school levies on the ballot.

10. State Republican Treasurer primary

Voters are not likely paying a lot of attention to the Republican primary for state treasurer and that creates some uncertainty.

Findlay state Rep. Robert Sprague is running against former Ashtabula County Auditor Sandra O’Brien.

Sprague is the candidate with the most Republican support, but O’Brien has pulled off upsets before. In the 2006 primary she defeated then-Treasurer and former Lt. Gov. Jennette Bradley.

Sprague has a big cash advantage and has been running TV spots against O’Brien.

Races for Congress heating up

The outcomes of the primaries likely won’t be surprises tonight, but local races for Congress will get a lot of attention in November.

Today, Republican Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, faces two GOP challengers: John Mitchel and John Anderson. On the Democratic side, Theresa Gasper is running against Michael Milisits and Robert Klepinger.

The 10th District race is getting more attention than normal after Gasper reported taking in more than $200,000 in the first quarter. Two national groups that rank congressional races also show the seat as moving from being solid Republican to likely Republican.

Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents Warren County and the Cincinnati area, should not have any problem defeating his Republican challenger, Samual Ronan. But the race this fall will be one to watch. Democratic Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Purveval raised more than $600,000 in the first quarter, so both sides should have money to spend on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Democrats in the 8th congressional district have a primary Tuesday to decide who will take on Republican Rep. Warren Davidson this fall.

Rep. Jim Jordan also has a Republican primary challenger in the 4th District. Three Democrats — Janet Garrett, Leah Sellers and Cody James Slatzer-Rose — are also running.

Staff writers Laura Bischoff, Lynn Hulsey, Will Garbe, Chris Stewart, Lawrence Budd, Cornelius Frolik and Wayne Baker contributed to this report.

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