Hudson’s Frank LaRose elected Ohio Secretary of State

It’s not often that two major party candidates competing for statewide office are both 39 years old and live fewer than 10 miles from one another.

It happened Tuesday as Ohio voters chose between Democrat Kathleen Clyde of Kent and Republican Frank LaRose of Hudson for Secretary of State, the officer holder in charge of future elections.

With 90 percent of statewide precincts reporting, The Associated Press called the race for LaRose at 10:28 p.m. He leads with 52 percent of the vote to Clyde’s 46 percent.

Both were elected to the Ohio General Assembly in 2010, with Clyde completing her fourth term as a state representative in the 75th District and LaRose finishing his second term as a state senator for the 27th District.

“It’s an indescribable honor that our fellow Ohioans have elected me to serve as our 51st Secretary of State,” said Hudson’s Frank LaRose said in a statement. “Thanks to the millions of Ohioans who have placed their trust in me.”

Spending time in Kent midday Tuesday, Clyde said serving a “bellwether county” like Portage County that supported both President Obama and President Trump made her “battle tested.”

“I’ve always had to bring people together in order to win my seat,” she said. “I think that’s a good background to have when running in a big swing state like Ohio.

“I’ve campaigned hard here. I’ve been a public servant now for eight years in the Ohio House and I hope to get the opportunity to lead at the statewide level.”

Originally from Garrettsville, Clyde attended Wesleyan University for her undergraduate work and earned a law degree from Ohio State University. She spent some time in Cincinnati when her father lived there, vacationed in Hocking Hills and also visited friends at Ohio University.

“I think that I understand what Ohioans are going through, whether they’re in a rural area, an urban area, [or] a suburban area,” Clyde said.

LaRose said it’s important to “just be yourself” to connect with the diverse population of the Buckeye State and that he maintains a “diverse” background himself, having grown up in a family-owned business and having worked on a farm while he in school.

In addition, growing up in northeast Ohio and serving in the military connected him with people from many different walks of life.

“That’s me,” said LaRose, who graduated from Copley High School and Ohio State University. “And that’s why I think that I’ve had some measure of success out on the campaign trail really connecting with people in the grass-roots sense. I enjoy meeting people where they are.”

LaRose said his service in the U.S. Army has taken him to many parts of the world and states around the U.S.

“A lot of [states] are pretty homogeneous,” LaRose said. “In Ohio, you’ve got this real diversity that is, I think, in many ways, our strength as a state. [It’s] partly why we’re such a bellwether state, a swing state, because Ohio kind of looks like a snapshot of America.”

Noting she is the only woman running at the top of the ticket for a statewide office, Clyde said she’s visited with a lot of women who are pleased that a woman is seeking the Secretary of State’s post.

“I’ve seen a lot of excitement in this election, especially from women, and I think that my candidacy is one that has generated a lot of interest and support,” Clyde said.

She noted women are “very underrepresented” in government and with females encompassing half the population in the state, that number should “be reflected in the various levels of government.”

LaRose said his military service — which included serving as a Green Beret in the U.S. Special Forces — played a significant role in cementing a strong belief in protecting elections and voters’ rights.

“I’ve seen people risk their lives to cast a ballot in Iraq and in Kosovo,” said LaRose. “I’ve seen people defy the threats of terrorists to do this ... This, to me, is a calling.”

Clyde believes it is “important for us to bring people together.”

“In the Secretary of State’s Office, we need to have transparency,” she said. “We need to show the state that their leaders are accountable to them.”

If elected, LaRose said he wants to “turn down the rhetoric,” and try to be a “voice of moderation” within the Republican Party.

“Most Ohioans are not far right or far left,” he said. “Most Ohioans are somewhere more in the middle of that spectrum and I think that there’s a need for a voice of moderation within both parties to sort of drag it back from the fringes.”

Article originally published in the MyTownNEO by Phil Keren on 11/6/18.

Grant Shaffer