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Attorney general moves on

Favored Republican candidate and sitting Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery defeated Democratic candidate Helen Knipe Smith in the race for state auditor.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your trust,” Montgomery said. “I promise to be the best auditor I can be.”

Like many of the positions on the ballot yesterday, the state auditor post was expected to be filled by a Republican.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Montgomery had $1.5 million after spending $250,000 by the end of August. Smith had $30,000 at the end of August after spending $2,700.

The state auditor position will be vacated when the term limit expires for the current occupant and fellow Republican Jim Petro, who has been in office since 1995. Petro will be back in office as Ohio’s attorney general, the post Montgomery will also leave because of term limits.

Jim Rokakis, Cuyahoga County treasurer and a coworker of Smith’s, said this “game of musical chairs at the top” only hurts the state government.

Both candidates said the new state auditor will face several challenges in her term. The most important will be the budget deficit, estimated at somewhere near $4 billion. Montgomery expressed concern over this issue, but Smith said the situation was aggravated by her rival and the current state auditor.

Controversy arose earlier in this election when Smith challenged Montgomery to return campaign contributions greater than $1,000 from lawyers and their associates who served on special counsels appointed by Montgomery.

Montgomery said Smith’s accusations were “false and misleading,” and that no such appointments were given to many contributors to Montgomery’s campaign.

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