Taft enters Election Day ahead in fund raising, polls - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Taft enters Election Day ahead in fund raising, polls

By CHARLEY GILLESPIE, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Voters decided Tuesday who would have control of the governor's office during a budget crisis and resolution of a school-funding lawsuit.

Republican Gov. Bob Taft said he had done much but also had much to accomplish if elected to a second, four-year term. Democratic opponent Tim Hagan said Taft had his chance and failed to be a strong leader.

Hagan faced an uphill battle with Taft raising $9 million to Hagan's $1 million. A third candidate on the ballot, independent John Eastman, raised less than $5,000.

No matter who wins, the lieutenant governor will become the nation's first black female in a state's No. 2 job.

Hagan and Eastman were not able to afford television ads, while Taft ran five statewide TV campaigns.

Taft also led in the polls throughout the campaign.

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Hagan made Taft's accountability a major campaign issue and said the state was in crisis. Among other things, he cited the state's failure to resolve an 11-year-old school-funding lawsuit and how the state budget was balanced only after a series of protracted battles with lawmakers in Taft's own party.

Taft said he held down unemployment and created jobs in a difficult economy. In the second half of his term, Taft faced a sluggish economy further hurt by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Budget deficits so far have totaled $3.4 billion.

Three televised debates were held during the campaign in Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland. Eastman was included in the final debate. Analysts said the candidates performed well but the debates would not greatly affect Taft's lead.

Taft, 60, spent eight years as secretary of state after serving as a Hamilton County commissioner and a state representative. He is the great-grandson of a president and grandson and son of senators.

Hagan, 56, spent 16 years as a Cuyahoga County commissioner and previously served as chairman of the county's Democratic Party. He lost his campaigns for mayor of Cleveland in 1989 and for U.S. Congress in 1992. He is married to actress Kate Mulgrew of "Star Trek: Voyager."

Eastman is an environmental engineer in Dayton who has not held public office.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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