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Postwar Political Developments


Oil refining
Oil refining

Ohio had long been a leader in the development of aircraft and air transportation, since Orville and Wilbur Wright of Dayton invented and flew the first practical airplane in 1903. During the 1960s the state provided several leading figures in the United States’ space program. On February 20, 1962, John H. Glenn of New Concord became the first American to orbit the earth. Seven years later, on July 20, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong of Wapakoneta took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” to become the first human to step on the moon. In 1974 Glenn was elected a United States senator from Ohio, and reelected in 1980, 1986, and 1992. Glenn unsuccessfully sought the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination.

Since 1945 Ohio has been closely divided between the Democratic and Republican parties. Each party has controlled the governor’s office for about half of that period. The state is considered a barometer of national politics, because it is near the national average in income levels, ethnic mix, and urban-rural balance. In presidential elections, the results in Ohio often reflect the national outcome. In 1971 the state imposed an income tax, which brought in $373 million in revenue the following year. By 1995 state income tax collections exceeded $4.5 billion, a 1,200 percent increase during a time when Ohio’s population growth was comparatively flat. Republican George V. Voinovich was elected governor in 1990 and reelected in 1994, focusing on controlling the state budget after years of rising taxes and spending.

Voinovich sought to slow the growth of welfare spending and increase support for education. Republican Bob Taft was elected governor in 1998; he was reelected in 2002. In 2005 Taft was charged with violating state ethics laws by failing to report gifts he received. The charges were misdemeanors and the gifts were worth only about $6,000. However, the charges mushroomed into a major political scandal for Taft because the gifts came from a Republican Party fundraiser who was accused of mishandling and possibly stealing millions of dollars from a state workers’ compensation fund.

After this scandal voters elected a Democrat, Ted Strickland, to the governor’s office in 2006. Strickland, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and an ordained Methodist minister, pledged to run an ethical administration. In 1992 the state constitution was amended to limit the terms of office for U.S. senators and representatives, but those provisions were later ruled unconstitutional. Term limits were also adopted for the governor’s office and other statewide elected officials, taking effect in 1995. "Ohio" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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