Tales from the Trail

Republicans Portman, Kasich lead in Ohio races

Republicans Rob Portman, a former White House budget director, and John Kasich, a former House member, so far are leading in their races for new jobs in economically hard-hit and politically important Ohio.

That’s according to our new Reuters-Ipsos poll. OBAMA/

Portman leads Democrat Lee Fisher in the U.S. Senate race by 43 percent to 36 percent in the poll of likely voters, with less than three months to go until the Nov. 2 congressional elections.

Kasich has a 48 percent to 39 percent lead over incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland in the Ohio governor’s race.

High on the minds of Ohio voters is the state’s weak economy, which has a 10.5 percent jobless rate, a percentage point higher than the U.S. rate. The poll said 79 percent of those surveyed saw the economy as the state’s biggest problem, with weak government and corrupt politicians a distant second at 12 percent.

Portman and Fisher are battling to replace the retiring Republican Sen. George Voinovich and the Ohio seat is among about a half-dozen open Republican seats the party must defend in competitive races.

A fourth Senate Republican won’t seek reelection

WASHINGTON – Democrats came up just short of a winning a filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the 100-member Senate in last November’s election.  But they may do it in next year’s contest — thanks largely to a rising number of Senate Republicans calling it quits.

George Voinovich – a highly respected, two-term moderate — on Monday became the fourth Senate Republican to announce he won’t seek reelection in 2010.CAMPAIGN BUSH

Voinovich’s decision followed earlier such announcements by Republican Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Mel Martinez of Florida and Kit Bond of Missouri.