Kasich: Midterm turnout suggests opening for independent bid

By HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Thursday while he remains undecided about another presidential run, the midterm election results could suggest a greater opening for an independent or third-party candidate.
Kasich made his second trip this year to New Hampshire, where he finished second in the state’s leadoff Republican presidential primary in 2016.
“I’m encouraged every time I come back here,” he told reporters in Concord before meeting with supporters. “I know everybody’s wondering how I’m going to make a decision, when I’m going to make a decision. I don’t know, but what’s most important to me is that I can have a voice that can be a healing voice for the country.”
Asked about his previous speculation about running as a third-party or independent, Kasich said all options remain on the table.
“I think there’s a vast ocean in the middle. The middle has been numb, they didn’t know what to do. But they did something they haven’t done in 100 years, they voted. They turned out in unbelievable numbers to say we’ve had enough,” he said. “Where that takes us, I can’t quite tell. But if you have this big ocean in the middle, there’s perhaps a chance for something that’s unique in American history.”
Kasich elaborated a bit later in Manchester, noting the rapid pace of innovation in technology and medicine.
“In an era of all this change, why wouldn’t we think there could be fundamental political change?” he said. “The day will come, I think. When it will happen, I don’t know.”
The former congressman has been one of President Donald Trump’s most outspoken Republican detractors, and said the president will have a hard time getting re-elected as a divider. He said the midterm elections showed the Republican Party needs to change its message on separating families at the border, health care and other issues.
“To me, there is a very positive message. And that is: Americans don’t want the negativity. They don’t want the chaos. They don’t want the divide,” he said.
In contrast to Trump, who characterizes the media as an enemy of the people, Kasich spoke later at the annual First Amendment Awards given by Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. The school is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded by the late president and publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
“The press is the one thing that holds the rich and the powerful accountable so we normal citizens can make up our minds about the current state of affairs, about our culture, about the world, about what we can do, and think and take action about,” Kasich said.
Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of New Hampshire Republican Party, backed Kasich’s 2016 primary bid and wrote him in on the general election ballot rather than vote for Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton. He refused to vote for any midterm candidate who supports Trump, leaving him with a nearly blank ballot.
“The election results to me suggest that enough Republicans are disgusted with the Trump administration that it’s now costing other Republicans their chance to win,” he said.
Kasich noted while many Republican governors lost, Ohio elected another Republican to replace him.
“Why is that? A big factor is because no one was left behind in the state over the last eight years,” he said. “People in Ohio feel pretty good. They’re not angry. They don’t feel left out. They feel like why would I change, we’re going in the right direction.”
But back at home, the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly spent Thursday thumbing its nose at the absent governor . Lawmakers overrode Kasich’s veto of a measure expanding their power to revisit rules written and finalized by the government’s executive branch. The Ohio House also passed a “stand your ground” gun bill and a restrictive heartbeat abortion bill like one Kasich vetoed in December 2016. Both measures still need to be voted on by the Ohio Senate before a bill reaches Kasich’s desk.
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Associated Press Writer Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.

Jury awards $5M each to men wrongfully imprisoned for murder

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — A jury has awarded $5 million each to three Ohio men who spent almost 20 years in jail after being wrongfully imprisoned for murder.
Cleveland.com reports that jurors decided East Cleveland police officers violated the rights of Laurese Glover, Eugene Johnson and Derrick Wheatt throughout an investigation into a 1995 murder.
A judge in March declared the men wrongfully imprisoned. The three have long denied killing 19-year-old Clifton Hudson, and the case against them unraveled when attorneys learned a prosecutor hid reports raising doubt about their guilt.
A judge freed them and ordered a new trial in 2015. Charges were dropped when prosecutors decided not to pursue another trial.
The city and police officers have denied wrongdoing. Their lawyer said after the verdict there are “a lot of appealable issues.”

Police identify woman hit and killed with her own vehicle

CLEVELAND (AP) — Authorities have identified a 33-year-old Cleveland mother as the woman killed when two men entered her family’s vehicle and struck her with it.
Cleveland police say Lesley Dejesus Gonzalez was painting at a church Thursday afternoon with her two children and their father when she saw two men enter the family’s car. She was struck by the vehicle after she and her husband attempted to intervene.
Dejesus Gonzalez was declared dead at the scene. No one else was hurt.
Authorities say the suspected carjackers sped off in the vehicle, which police later found abandoned on a road.
Police statements say two men were taken into custody Thursday but were later released when investigators found they were not involved. Authorities have made no arrests in the ongoing investigation.
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This story has been updated to show that police now say the car was not left running.

House Republicans elect McCarthy over Ohio’s Jim Jordan

By LISA MASCARO, AP Congressional Correspondent
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy easily won an internal party election to take over the shrunken House GOP caucus, handing the seven-term Californian a familiar role of building the party back to a majority as well as protecting President Donald Trump’s agenda.
With Speaker Paul Ryan retiring and the House majority gone, the race for minority leader was McCarthy’s to lose Wednesday. But rarely has a leader of a party that suffered a major defeat — Democrats wiped out Republicans in GOP-held suburban districts from New York to McCarthy’s own backyard — been so handily rewarded.
After defeating Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the conservative House Freedom Caucus co-founder, McCarthy will be tested by Republicans on and off Capitol Hill who remain angry and divided after their midterm losses, and split over how best to move forward.
“We’ll be back,” McCarthy promised, claiming a unified front for the Republican leadership team. He won by 159-43 among House Republicans.
McCarthy, who has been majority leader under Ryan, acknowledged Republicans “took a beating” in the suburbs in last week’s national elections, especially as the ranks of GOP female lawmakers plummeted to just 13. The GOP side of the aisle will be made up of 90 percent white men in the new Congress — an imbalance he blamed on billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s election spending to help Democrats.
Bloomberg spent more than $110 million in the midterms. Two Republican women were defeated by candidates he supported, and both were replaced by Democratic women, said spokeswoman Rachel Nagler.
McCarthy has been here before, having helped pick up the party after Republicans last lost control of the House in 2006, leading them to the 2010 tea party wave that pushed them back into the majority.
Trump, who is close to McCarthy but also friendly with Jordan, largely stayed on the sidelines in the intraparty House contest. The outcome gives the president two allies positioned to help him.
While McCarthy provides an affable face for the GOP, Jordan, the former Ohio wrestling champ and a Fox News regular, will be fighting Democrats’ investigations into Trump’s businesses and administration.
GOP Whip Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican who was badly wounded in last year’s congressional baseball practice shooting and unanimously won his position Wednesday, said McCarthy “knows what he needs to do.”
Rounding out the GOP leadership team will be Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was on hand to watch his daughter take over the No. 3 spot he held decades ago. “He told me not to screw it up,” she said.
House Democrats put off until after Thanksgiving their more prominent contest, Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s bid to regain the speaker’s gavel she held when the Democrats last had the majority.
On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky won another term leading Republicans and Chuck Schumer of New York won for Democrats. Both were selected by acclamation.
Senate Republicans also welcomed the first woman to their leadership team in years, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, as they sought to address the optics of the GOP side of the aisle being dominated by men. Ernst called her selection “a great honor.”
In the House, Jordan and McCarthy shook hands after a testy two days of closed-door sessions, according to lawmakers in the room for Wednesday’s voting. Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the Freedom Caucus chairman, called it a “gentlemanly” debate.
But the friendly talk papers over the infighting between the GOP’s conservative and moderate flanks as lawmakers dole out blame after the midterm election losses that handed House Democrats the majority.
Many Republicans side with Jordan’s theory, which is that Republicans, despite a GOP monopoly on power in Washington, lost because they didn’t “do what we said” — including delivering Trump’s priority to build the border wall with Mexico.
McCarthy made that argument too, lawmakers said, suggesting that those who lost their races — or came close to losing — didn’t work hard enough to sell the GOP’s message. At one point, he was running ads in some districts promoting Trump’s border wall.
GOP Rep. Peter King of New York rose to object, saying his view was that Republicans lost ground over the GOP tax cuts that reduced deductions for some filers. The harsh immigration rhetoric that turned off suburban voters didn’t help, he said.
“We used to own the suburbs,” King said. “Now we’re down to rural voters.”
McCarthy relishes an underdog role, which channels the spirit of his hometown of Bakersfield in California’s central valley, where he worked his way up from a congressional aide.
“We think he’s absolutely our best political strategist, our best fundraiser, our best recruiter,” said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma. “And that’s job No. 1 in getting back to the majority.”
But after eight years of GOP control, the tea party class of 2010 is long gone. So too are the “Young Guns” — former leader Eric Cantor and outgoing Speaker Ryan — who penned that strategy. Voters largely panned the party’s latest signature accomplishment, Trump’s tax cuts, and Republicans have all but abandoned the tea party promises to cut the deficit and repeal and replace Obamacare.
Among those who opposed McCarthy, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, summed up his view of the Californian’s strengths and weaknesses. “He’s a savant at making friends,” Massie said, “probably not at running the country.”
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Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Kevin Freking, Laurie Kellman and Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.
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Follow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lisamascaro and AP’s political coverage at https://apnews.com/apf-politics

Outside reports expected in trapped Cincinnati teen’s death

CINCINNATI (AP) — Findings and recommendations are coming from two companies hired by Cincinnati authorities for independent reviews into the failed response to a 16-year-old student who died trapped in a minivan parked near his school.
A special city council meeting is planned Thursday for reports on the emergency center and police response.
The city has already been upgrading smart-phone communications, computer-assisted dispatch, police in-car mapping, and training in the aftermath of Kyle Plush’s April 10 death. Two officers sent in response to the student’s first 911 call drove through parking areas around the school, but didn’t get out. Police have said they didn’t have information needed to narrow their search.
Plush’s father found his son dead, pinned in the minivan’s rear, nearly six hours after the first of two 911 calls.

Pair of critically-endangered red wolves arrive at Akron Zoo

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — The Akron Zoo says two wolves that are a part of a critically endangered species have come to live at the zoo as part of a Species Survival Plan.
The red wolf is one of the world’s most endangered wolf species, and it is believed only about 60 wolves remain in the wild. Cleveland.com reports the wolf species were decimated by predator-control programs.
The four-year old brothers — Waya, which means “wolf” in Cherokee, and Mohe, meaning “elk” in Cherokee — came to Akron from Wisconsin. The Akron Zoo’s original red wolf, Itabi, has been moved to the Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 200 red wolves are maintained in captive breeding facilities around the country.
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Information from: cleveland.com, http://www.cleveland.com

Authorities: Prosecuting Ohio massacre case could last years

By ANGIE WANG and ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press
WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) — Prosecuting an Ohio family of four arrested in the gruesome slayings of eight people from another family could take years to conclude, a county prosecutor said as the first break in the more than two-year-old case was announced.
Tuesday’s announcement marked the culmination of a massive investigative effort that began after seven adults and a teenage boy were found shot in the head at four separate homes in April 2016. The killings terrified local residents and spawned rumors that it was a drug hit, but prosecutors suggested the attack had stemmed from a custody dispute.
The investigation is one of the most complicated and extensive in state history, with enormous numbers of witnesses and a huge amount of evidence, said Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk.
“There is a lot of hard work ahead of us. I cannot emphasize that enough. An indictment is only the beginning of the case,” Junk said Tuesday, adding that the case may have to be moved from Pike County because of the pre-trial publicity.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said a grand jury indicted the four members of the Wagner family on aggravated murder charges. Police arrested George “Billy” Wagner III, 47; his wife, 48-year-old Angela Wagner; and his sons George Wagner, 27, and Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26. They could be sentenced to death if convicted, DeWine said.
DeWine gave scant detail about why the victims were killed, but said the custody of a young child played a role. Edward Wagner was the long-time former boyfriend of 19-year-old Hanna Rhoden, one of the eight victims, and shared custody of their daughter at the time of the massacre.
Edward Wagner was also charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for having sexual contact with Rhoden when she was 15 years old and he was 20 years old, DeWine’s office said.
Tony Rhoden, who lost two brothers in the killings, said the family was still processing the news.
“We just don’t know what to think,” Rhoden told the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s a lot to take in.”
The Wagner family lived near the scenes of the killings about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Columbus. They moved to Kenai, Alaska, in June 2017, then returned to Ohio this past spring.
Kelly Cinereski, an Alaskan pastor and friend of the family, told the Dayton Daily News he was shocked by their arrests.
“These people wept over dogs, I can’t imagine them taking people’s lives,” he said.
The mothers of Angela Wagner and George Wagner also were arrested in Ohio and charged with misleading investigators.
Both Edward Wagner and Angela Wagner previously told the Cincinnati Enquirer that they were not involved in the killings.
Angela Wagner said in an email to the newspaper that what happened was devastating and Hanna Rhoden was like a daughter to her. Wagner also told The Enquirer that her husband, George, and Christopher Rhoden Sr. were more like brothers than friends.
John Clark, a lawyer who has been representing the Wagners, has said previously that four of the Wagner family members provided laptops, phones and DNA samples to investigators, and agreed to be interviewed about the slayings.
“We look forward to the day when the true culprits will be discovered and brought to justice for this terrible tragedy,” Clark said in a statement Tuesday.
The victims were identified as 40-year-old Christopher Rhoden Sr.; his ex-wife, 37-year-old Dana Rhoden; their three children, 20-year-old Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 16-year-old Christopher Jr., and 19-year-old Hanna; Clarence Rhoden’s fiancée, 20-year-old Hannah Gilley; Christopher Rhoden Sr.’s brother, 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden; and a cousin, 38-year-old Gary Rhoden. Hanna Rhoden’s days-old baby girl, another baby and a young child were unharmed.
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Welsh-Huggins reported from Columbus. Associated Press Writers John Seewer in Toledo and Dylan T. Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky, and AP Researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.

Macy’s heads into the holiday season like a boss

CINCINNATI (AP) — Macy’s heads into the crucial holiday season firing on all cylinders, logging its fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth at existing locations and getting strong reactions from customers both online and in its stores.
The company upped its annual earnings expectations Wednesday from between $3.95 and $4.15 per share, to between $4.10 and $4.30.
Macy’s Inc. had third-quarter profits of $62 million, or 20 cents per share. Per-share earnings adjusted for one-time gains and losses were 27 cents, or 13 cents better than industry analyst expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.
The Cincinnati store is reporting revenue of $5.4 billion, also beating expectations.
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This story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on M at https://www.zacks.com/ap/M

Police: Reporter and her uncle found dead inside home

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Authorities in Ohio say two people found dead in a home died from gunshots, including a woman who was a reporter for Cleveland.com.
Perrysburg Township police in suburban Toledo say they found the two bodies Monday.
A coroner said Tuesday that 30-year-old Nikki Delamotte was shot several times. Delamotte had worked for Cleveland.com about two years and wrote human interest and culture stories.
The Wood County coroner says Delamotte’s uncle, 67-year-old Robert Delamotte, of Perrysburg Township, died from a single gunshot.
Authorities have not said what happened. Detectives say it’s a homicide investigation.
Cleveland.com reports Nikki Delamotte wanted to reconnect with her uncle after having little contact with her father’s family since her parents divorced.
Delamotte’s mother said her daughter went to visit her uncle Sunday.

Ohio State board to hear from ex-students alleging sex abuse

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State University’s trustees will hear directly from former students who say they were sexually abused by a team doctor, allegations that span the late physician’s two decades at the school.
Alumnus Brian Garrett says he and other accusers of Dr. Richard Strauss asked to speak so they can share their stories, seek help and request changes. He says they don’t want to discuss their lawsuits against Ohio State.
The board says it’s setting aside 20 minutes to hear students’ stories at next Friday’s trustees’ meeting
Strauss killed himself in 2005. His relatives have said they’re shocked by the allegations first raised in April.
A law firm investigating abuse claims has heard from at least 145 ex-students who have shared firsthand accounts of alleged misconduct by Strauss between 1979 and 1997.