Thursday, November 09, 2000

Ohio election of '74 similar to Bush-Gore

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ohio's version of the Bush-Gore deadlock happened on a very long election night 26 years ago.

        Ohio Gov. John Gilligan, a Cincinnati Democrat, was running for a second term against former Republican Gov. James Rhodes.

        Mr. Gilligan was the favorite for re-election, despite intense criticism for pushing through the state income tax and closing the state park system in a belt-tightening move. But the election in 1974 came three months after Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, and Republican prospects in the fall election were not good.

        The incumbent held a small but steady lead well after midnight. In a ballroom at the old Neil House Hotel in Columbus, a victory cake in the shape of the White House (many expected Mr. Gilligan to run for president in 1976) was readied for the reveling Democrats.

        Down the hall in another ballroom, Mr. Rhodes was delivering a concession speech.

        Mr. Rhodes went up to his hotel suite and went to bed. Shortly before 5 a.m., aides awakened him with good news: He had won by about 11,000 votes, less than 1 vote per precinct.


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