Union law issue in some Ohio legislative primaries

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lingering voter anger over the state's now-rejected collective bargaining law played out Tuesday as an issue in several state legislative primaries.

Contenders in the primary contests included educators and other public workers who were against the union-limiting bill passed last spring by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

The measure would have affected more than 350,000 teachers, police, firefighters and other government employees. It was rejected by 62 percent of voters in November.

Democratic candidate Donna O'Connor was successful in her bid to seek a House seat in the Columbus suburbs for the first time. The Dublin teacher said she wanted to represent the voices of her fellow public workers inside the Statehouse.

She took 43 percent of the vote to win a three-way race that included businessman David Robinson, who narrowly lost a legislative bid in 2010, and David Donofrio, a former Ohio Legislative Service Commission fellow and deputy clerk of courts in Franklin County.

One GOP candidate for the Ohio House was not as successful in his attempt to use his opposition to the measure to distinguish himself in a three-way race.

Eric Spicer, a Republican from Beavercreek, saw his stance as a chance to present himself as a "nonpolitician" looking to avoid partisan fights. He was defeated by Greene County Commissioner Rick Perales, who grabbed about 60 percent of votes in the southwest Ohio district in preliminary results.

Incumbent state Rep. Jarrod Martin, who voted for the legislation, trailed the pack.

Martin was one of six Republican representatives with primary opponents, but the only one who lacked the support of the House GOP caucus.

Martin was arrested in July on a drunken-driving charge that was dismissed. He pleaded guilty to a traffic violation for failing to keep a trailer he was hauling in a marked lane and was fined $150 plus court costs.

House Speaker William Batchelder has told Martin it would be in the best interest of his family and the caucus if he would step down.

Republicans had three Ohio Senate primaries and 18 Ohio House matchups, including one write-in contender. Democrats had 14 House contests and no Senate races.

Among familiar faces in the primaries was Cincinnati Tea Party founder Mike Wilson.

Wilson, a Republican, won his race against Lonnie Bowling Jr., setting him up to again challenge Democratic incumbent Rep. Connie Pillich. Their matchup in 2010 triggered automatic recounts. Pillich, a Cincinnati lawyer, edged out Wilson by just over 600 votes.

All six incumbent House Democrats who faced primary challengers won Tuesday, including Minority Leader Armond Budish of Beachwood.

Republican Peggy Lehner of Kettering, the only sitting senator in a primary contest, won her race.

Dayton Daily News, Wed Mar 7 2012

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