Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Democratic former state Attorney General Richard Cordray are projected to face off against each other in the race to replace GOP Gov. John Kasich, having won their parties' respective primaries Tuesday, Fox News projects.
With nearly 65 percent of precincts reporting, DeWine, a former two-term senator, had 59.68 percent of the vote and Cordray had 62.51 percent, according to the office of the Ohio Secretary of State. Kasich faces a term limit and cannot run again for governor.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Cordray tweeted after the race was called.
The 59-year-old Cordray on Tuesday night has defeated former Ohio congressman and Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich -- in a primary battle seen as a larger fight for the Democratic Party’s liberal base.
Cordray was backed by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Wall Street reformer and “progressive” champion who helped start the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Cordray ran until last year.
Kucinich was backed by Our Revolution, the self-described “next step in the Bernie Sanders' movement.”
“Victory and defeat are a part of life,” Kucinich said in conceding defeat and congratulating Cordray. “They are opposite sides of the same coin... And so we move forward.”
The 71-year-old DeWine defeated Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. He had a double-digit lead entering the race and was expected to win. DeWine and Taylor, Kasich’s lieutenant governor, supported President Trump’s agenda and spent a combined $10 million since December.
DeWine and Cordray are moderates who, respectively, fought off challenges from the Republican right and the Democratic left.
While Kucinich had the support from perhaps the party’s most liberal wing, Taylor likened DeWine's record to that of Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and questioned his loyalty to Trump.
DeWine and Cordray have already faced each other once in a head-to-head race -- when DeWine narrowly won in their 2010 race for attorney general. And Cordray lost in a 2002 Democratic primary to deny DeWine his second Senate term.
DeWine was endorsed by the Ohio Republican Party and was bolstered by his partnership with Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, who dropped his own governor bid to become DeWine's running mate.
Cordray, who started as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under former President Obama and finished under Trump, featured Obama in his ads and campaigned with Warren.
Kucinich, also a two-time presidential candidate, attacked the low-key Cordray as an "establishment Democrat" and energized voters with a liberal anti-gun, pro-environment, single-payer health care platform. He won his first political race at 23 when elected to the Cleveland City Council.
But Kucinich’s strong challenge was hurt by revelations that he had taken a $20,000 speaking fee from a group sympathetic to Syrian President Bashar Assad, despite saying he’d return the money and arguing, “the purpose of the conference was to bring peace and reconciliation to Syria, not to support the current regime.”
Cordray's victory buoys Democratic hopes of reclaiming control of a battleground state, which Trump won in 2016 by 51.69 percent.
With former Rep. Betty Sutton as his running mate, Ohio Democrats have perhaps their strongest statewide ticket in recent memory into the fall. The Cordray-Sutton campaign is expected to focus on the candidates' efforts against consumer fraud, political corruption and voter disenfranchisement.
The Democratic primary also feature state Sen. Joe Schiavoni and former state Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.