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Ohioans to vote in 5 statewide races this fall

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio voters are electing candidates this fall to five statewide offices, including governor, and picking two Supreme Court judges.

Republican Gov. John Kasich is running largely on Ohio’s improved economy under his watch, a bounce tied at least in part to recovery from a national recession. Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, says he would restore money cut from education and local-government budgets if elected.

After a series of political blows, FitzGerald’s campaign is struggling and no gubernatorial debates are scheduled for the first time in decades.

His campaign woes are predicted to affect Democratic turnout, so Democrats’ entire statewide ticket has made joint appearances as part of a statewide bus tour as they try to register voters and rev up supporters to get out and vote Nov. 4.

Kasich’s fellow Republicans hold all the other statewide offices: secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor and treasurer. Among those down-ticket races, the contest between treasurer Josh Mandel, who lost a bruising race for U.S. Senate in 2012, and rival Connie Pillich, a Democratic state representative from suburban Cincinnati, is considered the most competitive.

Here’s a look at the other matchups:

• Incumbent Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine facing Democrat David Pepper, a Cincinnati lawyer whose father was CEO of consumer products giant Procter & Gamble. Pepper’s campaign has capitalized on news reports about DeWine that said he steered lucrative state business to a political ally’s inexperienced collections firm and placed outside lawyers on a short list for coveted state work without documenting the process. DeWine has used his campaign to tout efforts to fight fraud, curb prescription drug abuse crimes and reduce a statewide rape-kit backlog.

• Incumbent Republican Auditor Dave Yost faces Democratic state Rep. John Patrick Carney of Columbus in a race that’s focused heavily on the extent of Yost’s actions against publicly funded charter schools and Ohio’s privatized job-creation office, JobsOhio. Yost touts aggressive efforts toward both, while Carney calls his enforcement weak.

• Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted faces Democratic state Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland in a race centered on voting rights in the bellwether state. As the state’s elections chief, Husted has been at the center of endless litigation during his four-year term, and Turner has challenged his efforts as aimed at helping fellow Republicans. Husted has said his actions are nonpartisan efforts to make Ohio’s elections process consistent and fair across the state.

Republicans also hold six of seven seats on the Ohio Supreme Court, where two incumbent justices are up for election:

• Justice Judi French, an appointee of the Republican governor, is defending her seat against Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O’Donnell.

• Justice Sharon Kennedy, a Republican elected to an unexpired term in 2012, is facing Democratic state Rep. Tom Letson of Warren.