Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Democrats fought hard for Ohio

Voters' voices

From staff, wire reports

COMPLETE COVERAGE Special Election Coverage
Democratic presidential primaries are often decided by the time the race arrives in Ohio. But not this year.

John Kerry and John Edwards tried to appeal to voters to the very end.

Several Democrats voting at Whetstone Recreation Center, in the heavily liberal Clintonville neighborhood in north Columbus, said Kerry's military service mattered most to them. One of Kerry's Ohio TV ads featured him in uniform and included a testimonial from another veteran.

That could help in November, said Christine Oliver, 38.

"I'm part of the anybody-but-Bush crowd," she said. "It just seems like he has the momentum."

Others voting on their way to work favored native son Dennis Kucinich, a congressman and former mayor of Cleveland.

Deb Ballam, 54, said she was still struggling over her choice.

"I am fully supportive of John Kerry. I've given him money, as a matter of fact," Ballam said. "But for once I wanted to cast a pure vote. He (Kucinich) articulates the vision I hope to have for our country."

Neither issues nor personalities led Art Kibby, 66, to choose Edwards, he said.

"What I'm doing is selecting the lesser of two evils," the registered Democrat said in Anderson Township. "There's kind of a field of not very many viable candidates, but I still feel I need to vote."

County election board directors reported light voter turnout in the morning, but said they expected the numbers to pick up later and to meet the predicted 34 percent turnout statewide.

In the mostly Republican suburb of Montgomery, Tom Bloom said President Bush is the leader best equipped to defend the country against terrorism.

"I don't think much of Kerry," said Bloom, 55, an industrial safety specialist with the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services. "He's a hatchet man."

At a bus stop near downtown Cleveland, 42-year-old Donna James said she voted for Kerry for his experience, but was hoping Edwards would be on the ticket as vice president because his working-class background would resonate with northeast Ohio voters.

"Kerry and Edwards would be awesome together," she said.

In West Chester Township, voters at Hopewell Elementary School overwhelmingly supported re-electing Bush over any of the Democratic contenders.

"Fighting terrorism is the main thing," Bob Harffman, 45, said in the school parking lot after voting. "I don't like people blowing stuff up."

"It's a very difficult time to be president," added David Lamb, 39, of Mason. "(Bush) has got a lot of challenges, but he is a man of conviction and integrity. He has done the best job anyone could have under the circumstances in this time in our nation."

"He is a Christian. He is a good man," said Kris Oelker, 33, of West Chester, as she left the school with her two young sons in tow. "He is a Republican."

Carroll Latimore, 76, of Middletown, said she voted for Kerry.

"He talks a good game, and I like a talker. He might not be any better than the rest of them, but he sounds better."

Anne Sesler, 38, of Hyde Park, said Kerry appealed to her.

"I think he's very smart. He can handle the foreign policy crises we're having. I like Edwards, too, but he doesn't have the foreign policy experience."

Bethany Miller, 24, of Mount Lookout, was one of the few who said she voted for Kucinich.

"I just didn't see a huge difference between Edwards and Kerry, so I went with Kucinich because he is kind of the idealist."

Anthony Daskalov, 23, of Mount Lookout, was more impressed with Edwards.

"He seemed compassionate. He reminded me a little of Clinton. They seemed similar on the issues, so I voted on personality."

Pam Kirchner, 55, of Mount Lookout, voted for Edwards.

"I think he's very positive. I like to listen to him. I don't think there's a big difference between them politically. I just don't trust Kerry as much."

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