By Jim Siegel
Enquirer Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS - U.S. Sen. George Voinovich handily won re-election to a second term Tuesday, adding six more years to a political career already spanning more than four decades.
"I think Ohio voters have gotten to know George Voinovich over a long period of time,'' the Republican from Cleveland said shortly after the polls closed Tuesday, just before heading on stage to greet supporters at a rally in Cleveland.
"People have a knowledge of who I am and what I've done, and they think I'm getting the job done in Washington."
While state Republican leaders sweated over the presidential results, polls said Voinovich's race against underfunded Democratic challenger state Sen. Eric Fingerhut was never in doubt.
The Associated Press projected Voinovich the winner as soon as polls closed, based on interviews at selected precincts. Voinovich led Fingerhut by a 2-to-1 ratio much of the evening.
The former mayor of Cleveland and Ohio governor, Voinovich, 68, campaigned on a theme of job growth through a reformed legal system, lower energy costs and stricter enforcement of trade policies with China.
He stressed his efforts to help keep manufacturing jobs in Ohio, leading the way on urging the president to place tariffs on foreign steel.
"If we didn't have that 21-month hiatus tariff on foreign steel ... a lot of steel companies today would have been in bad shape," he said.
Voinovich, a tight-fisted governor known for pinching pennies in his budgets, considers himself a deficit hawk, standing up to party leaders and President Bush when they pushed for bigger tax cuts.
In his second term, Voinovich said he will work to bring the next budget into balance, keep trying to pass a highway budget that stands to provide millions more for Ohio, and push to enforce trade and property rights laws with China.
His ads reminded people of the economic boom Ohio saw during his time as governor in the mid-1990s.
Fingerhut, 45, of Shaker Heights, put up a spirited fight, walking more than 400 miles across the state and through individual cities to spread his message. But he couldn't come close to matching Voinovich's statewide name recognition, or his more than $9 million war chest.
Tuesday's election was the latest in a string of wide victories for Voinovich. Asked the last time he ran a competitive race, he said, "My daddy told me to do a good job with the job you have and the future will take care of itself."
Many expect Fingerhut, a respected lawmaker known for his command of the issues, will build off this campaign and take another run at statewide office in 2006.
E-mail email@example.com. Enquirer reporter Steve Kemme contributed.
OHIO ELECTION RESULTS:
Ohio provisional ballots may decide presidential election
Voters repeal amendment on gay rights
Ohio Supreme Court: GOP's justices appear to be buttressing majority
Voinovich has no trouble winning 2nd Senate term
Sycamore levy passes; four others fail
Kerry effort falls short in Ohio
Ohio Republicans aim to maintain grip in House, Senate
Ohio election briefs
Ohio Issue 1 passes
Turnout heavy in suburbs
MU students hit the polls
HAMILTON CO. RACES
Cincinnati school levy passes
Hospital tax leading despite opposition
CLERMONT CO. RACES
Clermont County: Republicans remain choice in early count
Clermont County tax issues: Long lines delay counting
BUTLER CO. RACES
Fairfield levy passes
Butler commission: All incumbents being returned
Butler levies: Support strong for health, social care funding
Butler County Sheriff: Jones likely successor to Gabbard
WARREN CO. RACES
Heavy turnout, long lines delay vote count
Kings levy passes by slim margin
Indiana governor: Daniels prevails after tough, costly slugfest
Ballot misprint may affect Ind. school board race
KENTUCKY ELECTION RESULTS:
Alexandria: Voters stick with City Council's six incumbents
Bellevue City Council: Two incumbents losing seats with 4 of 5 precincts counted
Covington: Sanders and Stricker joining City Commission
Campbell County: Ward holds on to retain seat on Circuit Court
Florence City Council: One newcomer, five incumbents win seats
Independence: Four who opposed insurance tax win
Newport: Mayor, all four on council will be keeping their seats
Suburban schools: Campbell, other area boards get fresh faces
Villa Hills, Taylor Mill: Taxes to fix, replace city streets rejected
Urban schools: Newcomer ousts incumbent, snags Newport board seat
N. Ky. election briefs
Popular president dominates Kentucky
Ky. Senate: Bunning wins - but race was close
Ky. House: This time around, Davis prevails
Issue One: Kentucky overwhelmingly says yes to no-gay-marriage
State's determined voters brave long lines, waits, rain
23rd Senate District: Westwood survives challenge by Groob
Ex-Gov. Carroll wins Frankfort seat
State Senate: Republican Thayer wins a full term in new seat
67th House District: Keene's win preserves spot for Democrats
IN THE TRISTATE
Shelter director traveled from needing to helping
Help Habitat by hiring yard rakers
Father inspired mission journey
Cone throw may bring legal action
Police dogs could get TV time at competition
Harrison man charged in auto fatals
Exhibit to spotlight 350 years of Judaism in America
Medal of Honor graves get special markers
Local news briefs
Neighbors news briefs
Good Things Happening
Gay Weber designed jet engines for GE
Time of change in Crestview Hills
Waltz or swing, timid students learn to let go
Florence Freedom has a deal
$545,000 grant to bolster Ky. health-care work force
N. Ky. news briefs
Jewelry gone after autopsy of corpse
N.Ky. schools' education guide available online
Murder counts filed in wreck that killed 2