COLUMBUS, Ohio – Republican George Voinovich (search), well-known and well-funded, was easily re-elected to a second term in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, defeating a Democratic state lawmaker and former congressman.
Voinovich's win in Ohio was based on a statistical analysis of the vote from voter interviews conducted for the AP by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. The exit poll of 1,389 Ohio voters was subject to sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, higher for subgroups.
The senator started his re-election campaign in September, traveling the state by bus and running a negative television questioning state Sen. Eric Fingerhut's (search) stance on security. Fingerhut, who has been campaigning for the last year and a half, walked 335-miles across the state.
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Both campaigned on the economy in a state that has lost about 200,000 jobs in the last four years. Ohio's unemployment rate was 6 percent in September, compared to 5.4 percent nationally.
Voinovich, former two-term governor and mayor of Cleveland, said his experience made him the best person to steer Ohio to better economic times.
Fingerhut, a three-term state senator from Cleveland, had argued that the state needs a fresh vision to create more jobs and improve life for most Ohioans.
Voinovich's win makes him the second Republican senator re-elected in Ohio since the 1950s. Sen. Mike DeWine (search) was the first, in 2000.
Voinovich, 68, raised $9.7 million to Fingerhut's $1.1 million, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (search) before the election.
Voinovich attracted attention last year for insisting that President Bush's tax cut be cut in half. He has backed a new round of military base closures and worked to create a compensation program for sickened former nuclear weapons plant workers.
Fingerhut, 45, served one term in the U.S. House, losing re-election to Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette in 1994.