By Marc Kovac
Two incumbent Ohio Supreme Court justices were headed toward loss Tuesday night, though the political makeup of the state’s high court would stay the same.
Both Robert Cupp and Yvette McGee Brown were behind in initial returns posted by the secretary of state’s office late Tuesday.
Cupp, a Republican seeking a second term, fell to Bill O’Neill, a Democrat and former appeals court judge who has run for the Ohio Supreme Court and Congress in recent elections, according to the unofficial results.
McGee Brown, a Democrat who was appointed in the final days of Gov. Ted Strickland’s term, lost to Sharon Kennedy, a common pleas judge from Butler County.
The lone incumbent to retain his seat was Justice Terrence O’Donnell, a Republican who cruised back to the bench over Democratic state Sen. Mike Skindell.
“I cannot tell you what a privilege it is to serve as an elected justice of the Ohio Supreme Court,” O’Donnell told a cheering crowd at the Ohio Republican Party’s election night gathering near the Statehouse. “But let me assure you, that in a 32-year judicial career, I have dedicated myself to the law. I have dedicated my career to public service. ... I belong to Ohio.”
The results are unofficial and don’t include some absentee mailed in before Election Day and provisional ballots cast on Tuesday by voters with questions about their eligibility. Final counts will be completed later in the month.
O’Donnell far outpaced the other high court candidates, snagging 69 percent of the vote to Skindell’s 31 percent (2.3 million to 1 million), with 76 percent of precincts reporting.
The other two races were closer, with the newcomers edging the incumbents.
O’Neill topped Cupp, 52 percent to 48 percent (1.7 million to 1.6 million), according to the unofficial results.
O’Neill served a decade on the 11th District Court of Appeals. This was the third time he sought a seat on the Ohio Supreme Court.
Cupp, a former state senator, was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in 2006 after serving as an appeals court judge in the 3rd District (northwestern Ohio).
Kennedy, meanwhile, unseated McGee Brown, 58 percent to 42 percent (about 2 million to 1.4 million), according to the unofficial results.