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O'Brien Defeats Klein In County Prosecutor Race

Ron O'Brien delivers victory speech

Incumbent Republican Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien defeated Democratic challenger and Columbus City Council President Zach Klein last night by about 18,000 votes. Mike Foley has reaction from both candidates.

Supporters greeted Ron O’Brien as he walked through the halls of the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Columbus to deliver his victory speech.

“For this campaign to be successful we needed to raise the money to combat the resources of the ODP, who made this their number 3 race – Hillary #1, #2 Ted Strickland who we saw what happened to him and #3 Ron O’Brien.”

O’Brien’s first election to county prosecutor came in 1996, and he’s served in that role ever since. He credits that experience for last night’s victory.

“It’s because the public just in the most basic sense – the word prosecute means going to court and that’s what prosecutors do. Anyone that’s seen a tv show from Law & Order back to Perry Mason knows that’s what prosecutors do, and for someone who’s never been to court before running for the top spot, I think the public understood that was something that was not in the public’s interest.”

As for Klein, he’s confident his campaign raised the conversation in Franklin County on what’s needed for criminal justice reform.

“I did call Ron O’Brien, our Franklin County prosecutor, and told him that he ran a great race and that I have the utmost respect for him. And what we’re doing in this county, I think we’re going to need to do it together. This is not something just unique in Columbus or Franklin County. We have to reform the criminal justice system. And as the gatekeepers of the criminal justice system – which are prosecutor’s offices - they need partners. They need mayors and council presidents and councils and county commissioners and governors and state representatives. But I’m confident of the decade-long problems we have in the criminal justice system that if we’re gonna solve them, we’re gonna do it together. So I offered my support to him that we’re gonna stand together – Columbus City Council, the mayor’s office and the county offices - to do our part to change the criminal justice system in this country.”

O’Brien expected a close race, and says he’ll continue the same principles he’s had for the last 20 years. 

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience. Foley hosts The Morning Mix, a weekday music show featuring emerging and established musicians, our Columbus-area and Ohio-based talent, and additional artists that inspire him.
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