(CN) – From gubernatorial contests to a closely watched Senate bout, Ohioans cast their votes Tuesday in several key primary races that will shape November’s general election, which could end up being a referendum on President Donald Trump’s job performance.
One decision facing Ohio voters was which Republican and Democratic candidates will face off in the contest for governor this fall. Outgoing Governor John Kasich cannot run again because of term limits.
Two Democratic candidates with national name recognition touted their progressive credentials, and the two Republicans in the race were keen to cast their opponent as not conservative enough in a state that voted for Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by 8 percentage points in the 2016 election.
Democratic frontrunner and former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray defeated his closest rival, ex-Cleveland mayor and former presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich. A recent poll showed Cordray with a 15-point lead over Kucinich.
Kucinich had the backing of a Bernie Sanders-affiliated group called Our Revolution, though he did not get an official endorsement from Senator Sanders himself. Another progressive favorite, Senator Elizabeth Warren, backed Cordray. It was Warren who had proposed the consumer-protection agency that Cordray headed under the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, Republican favorite and the state’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, won his race against Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, and will go on to face Cordray in the fall to determine who will replace Governor Kasich.
Kasich, who has been critical of President Trump, and who could perhaps take another shot at the presidency as an independent candidate in 2020, endorsed Taylor. She had sought to distance herself from the Kasich administration and tried to paint DeWine as not conservative enough, dubbing him “D.C. DeWine.”
DeWine hit back with a $4.7 million ad blitz calling Taylor unqualified for the job and a “phony conservative.”
In addition to the gubernatorial primaries, Ohio voters also decided a Republican primary race for a U.S. Senate seat, choosing Congressman Jim Renacci over Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons. Renacci will go on to face incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in November.
The win for Renacci, who was tipped to carry the race, also represented a victory for President Trump, who in April had backed the politician for his positions on illegal immigration, border security and crime.
“I need Jim very badly to help our agenda and to keep MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! He will be a fantastic Senator for the Great State of Ohio, and has my full endorsement!,” Trump tweeted April 24.
Ohioans also gave their backing to Issue 1, a statewide ballot measure that has received bipartisan support. The proposal seeks to curtail gerrymandering, the redrawing of political maps to favor one political party over another.
Ohio has receded from a harsh winter in recent weeks and voters bathed in sunshine Tuesday, enjoying temperatures up in the 70s as they took to the polls. Joe Browne, a retired telecommunications worker, left the Allen Township Center, a polling place in rural northwest Ohio, in the afternoon.
He said that he had voted for Trump in 2016 and preferred DeWine in the race for governor because of Taylor’s proximity to Kasich.
If November’s election is a referendum on Trump, Browne said has not gauged any discontent among his friends and neighbors in Hancock County, which voted overwhelmingly for the president.
“I’m hoping for the best,” he said, adding that he had voted for Trump because of his anti-establishment credentials.
Hs wife Marlene sat in her car facing forward as her husband spoke. She was even more up-front in her support for Trump.
“I think he’s doing great,” she said. “He tells it like it is.”
She said that some people don’t like his style but that it didn’t bother her.
“He’s a New Yorker. Forget about it,” she said.