During his campaign to become Ohio attorney general, Steve Dettelbach talked to “millions of people” throughout the state – including many in the Jewish community.

“We’ve been to (Jewish) federation meetings in Cleveland and Columbus, and we’ve been to the JCC in Cincinnati,” Dettelbach, a congregant at Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike, told the Cleveland Jewish News on Election Day morning. “The Jewish community in Ohio has been an incredible source of strength in a really, really long campaign – and it’s been fantastic.”

By the end of the day on Nov. 6, however, the Solon Democrat learned his efforts wouldn’t carry him into office.

State Auditor Dave Yost, a Columbus-area Republican, defeated Dettelbach, 2,226,368 votes (52.42 percent) to 2,021,194 votes (47.58 percent), according to final, unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

In speaking to a crowd of family, friends and supporters at Windows on the River in Cleveland, where the Democratic Party of Cuyahoga County held a party to watch election results roll in, Dettelbach thanked his supporters. He also thanked two very important people who weren’t able to be in attendance: his parents, Marcia and Thomas Dettelbach, both of whom passed away in 2017.

“I started this campaign with both my parents and didn’t end this campaign with my parents, but I know they’re looking down and saying what all of us feel, which is the fight for justice, the fight to be right, the fight to make things better is something that never ends in one night,” he said. “It goes on and on and on. It will go on for me, and I know it will go on for everybody in this room.”

Yost will replace term-limited Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine as Ohio’s top cop and highest-ranking lawyer. The office oversees four crime labs, a police training academy and the state’s debt-collection system. The attorney general also writes legal opinions, assists district attorneys, and helps local and federal law enforcement. His four-year term will begin in January 2019. 

“(Dettelbach) is a smart man. I’m sure we’ll hear more from him, but tonight, tonight belongs to the Republicans,” Yost told supporters at the Sheraton Columbus Capitol Square in Columbus. “Let us remain true to our principles, let us never waiver from our duty and let us govern with passion and compassion in the days ahead.”

Dettelbach’s effort to become Ohio attorney general marked his first attempt at winning an elected office. He said he drew inspiration along the way from the Jewish community. 

“I’m very proud I’m the only person who’s running for statewide office who’s a member of the Jewish community,” he said shortly before voting at Grantwood Golf Course in Solon. “I’m also proud that I’m part of a lineage of candidates from the Jewish community who’ve held statewide office in Ohio – both Republicans and Democrats – ever since Howard Metzenbaum became our (U.S.) senator.

“Our community has always given and contributed and punched above our numbers in this state, and I’m very proud of that,” Dettelbach continued. “I’ve worked a lot in the Jewish community, met with people in the Jewish community, and I think there’s a real feeling in the Jewish community – in the Cleveland Jewish community and Columbus Jewish community –that we’re far from done. We want to continue to be contributors in every sector: business, law, medicine and government. So, it’s really a great feeling because there’s pride in our community about that – and that goes for Republicans and Democrats, because we’ve had both in different offices.”

Dettelbach cast his ballot on Election Day joined by his wife, Karil Bialostosky, and their two children, Allie and David. As he exited his polling location, he described voting for himself as “both a surreal and humbling experience.” By day’s end, he admitted being “deeply disappointed” by the results while acknowledging “this is our democratic process.”

“These aren’t the results I wanted, (and) they aren’t the results I expected, but it’s the way the vote came out,” he said. “For me, my whole career – my whole life – I’ve spent trying to fight for justice and to make the world a better place, and that’s what I plan to keep doing.”

Staff Reporter Ed Carroll contributed to this story.

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CJPC Lifestyles Editor
mbutz@cjn.org