Lucas County preserved and extended its reputation as a Democratic bastion in this election just ended. It also demonstrated that independent candidates need not apply.
Just as state government increasingly appears to be impenetrable terrain for Democrats, Lucas County is a tough nut for Republicans to crack.
Lucas was one of only nine counties out of 88 in which which Democrat Richard Cordray got a majority of the votes. It’s those other 79 counties that are turning Ohio into a red state.
Here in Lucas County, the Democratic Party machine operated in overdrive, from the looks of things.
The number of people voting early was nearly four times as much as in 2014, the state’s last gubernatorial election, and early voting is predominantly Democratic.
Mr. Cordray won 65 percent of the early/absentee vote, while Republican Mike DeWine won only 31 percent. Election Day voters were more independent in their choices, splitting their votes 57 percent for Mr. Cordray and 40 percent for Mr. DeWine in Lucas County. The combined outcome was 59 percent for Mr. Cordray and 38 percent for Mr. DeWine.
Among the five nonjudicial statewide candidates (governor, attorney general, auditor, treasurer, and secretary of state), attorney general candidate Steve Dettelbach was the top Democratic vote-getter in Lucas County and treasurer candidate Robert Sprague of Findlay was the top Republican vote-getter.
Among all nonjudicial races, the top Democratic vote-getter overall was Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, who was unopposed, with 108,320 votes, followed by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown with 97,960 votes.
The top nonjudicial Republican vote-getter was Lori Brodie, who ran unsuccessfully for county treasurer, with 63,120 votes.
Mr. Cordray’s vote total in this election was not as strong as the Democratic nominee in 2010. In that election, Democrat Ted Strickland got 61 percent of the vote, while Republican John Kasich got 36 percent.
Mr. DeWine’s slightly better performance than Mr. Kasich eight years ago is probably due to Mr. DeWine’s better name recognition, as a former U.S. senator and lieutenant governor, while Mr. Kasich had never been elected statewide.
Mr. Cordray made many forays into Lucas County, as did his running mate Betty Sutton. And while Mr. DeWine seemed to dominate television, Mr. Cordray made heavy use of the U.S. mails. My household received at least 16 different Cordray-Sutton mailers. As far as I can tell there was not one mailer from the DeWine campaign.
Below the statewide level, Democratic candidates for local office cleaned up with no trouble whatsoever.
Democratic Treasurer candidate Lindsay Webb easily dispatched Ms. Brodie, by 80,186 to 63,120, or 56 percent to 44 percent, according to the unofficial totals, despite Ms. Webb’s issues with getting bonding from insurers.
Ms. Brodie’s campaign was supposed to show the muscle of the newly elected Lucas County Republican Party under the chairmanship of Mark Wagoner. Mr. Wagoner invested all of the party’s efforts into Ms. Brodie’s candidacy. She ended up with about the same share of the vote as the last time Republicans seriously competed for an open county row office.
In 2012, Democrat Phillip Copeland ran for county recorder against Republican George Sarantou. Mr. Copeland got 57 percent to Mr. Sarantou’s 43 percent.
Before this election, Ms. Brodie was unknown outside of Waterville, where she is mayor, and Mr. Wagoner thinks her name recognition will make her more successful if she tries again for higher office.
Another election that tested the strength of the Democratic label in this election was for county commissioner.
However, there was an unseen force affecting the vote totals — a ghost candidate named Sandy Bashaw. Ms. Bashaw, with no previous political background, won the Republican nomination. Gary Byers, a defeated former Maumee municipal judge, won the Democratic nomination. Sandy Spang, a city councilman, ran as an independent.
Ms. Bashaw withdrew from the election, but too late to make a difference because her name stayed on the ballot.
Mr. Byers won 70,600 to 37,960, for a total of 108,560 votes. By comparison,143,306 votes were cast in the race for treasurer. One would assume that about the same number of people would vote in both elections.
So what happened to those 34,146 votes? They were probably votes cast for Ms. Bashaw by voters who weren’t aware she had dropped out.
Ms. Spang was successful as an independent running for council when people had a total of six candidates to elect.
If Ms. Spang had accepted Mr. Wagoner’s invitation back in January to seek the Republican nomination, she might even have been the the Lucas County Commissioner-elect today.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.