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Latta Wins Decisively In Ohio Special Election

Bob Latta, an Ohio Republican state legislator, is heading to Washington after decisively winning a hotly-contested special election in a solidly-Republican Ohio district. He will succeed the late Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio), who died from a fall on September 5.

The Associated Press has called the election for Latta. With 68 percent of precincts reporting, Latta is leading the Democratic nominee Robin Weirauch, 57 to 43 percent.

He will follow in his father Del’s footsteps, who represented the Bowling Green-based district from 1959 to 1989.

Both party campaign committees spent sizable sums to contest the race. The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee spent $428,000 – nearly one-fifth of their entire cash-on-hand – but played a key role to secure that the seat remained in Republican hands.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $244,000 on ads tying Latta to scandal-plagued former GOP governor Bob Taft and jailed lobbyist Tom Noe. .

State Democrats also dispatched popular Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to help campaign for Weirauch in the campaign’s final week. And labor activists from throughout the state poured into the district to help the Weirauch campaign.

Geography also played a key role in Latta’s victory. The congressman-elect hails from Wood County, the most populous and competitive in the district, and won 55 percent of the vote there. By contrast, Gillmor only carried 51 percent of the vote there in his 2006 victory.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole credited Latta’s tough message on border security and anti-tax message for the victory.

“This campaign became a cause célèbre for national Democrats and liberal activists nationwide, but in the end, Bob’s anti-illegal immigration, anti-tax hike message won the day,” Cole said in a statement.

“The people of Ohio’s Fifth Congressional District elected a representative in Bob Latta who will stand up for their values in Washington.”