In case you missed it… Through the “Main Street Initiative,” the Ohio Democratic Party is continuing to focus on building a bench of great public servants at the local level — and that focus paid dividends on Tuesday night, as Ohio Democrats won races in big cities, growing suburbs and even deep-red counties.
In addition, Andy Beshear’s win in Kentucky — which was powered by gains in the northern Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati — demonstrates how Democratic candidates can win the Buckeye State in 2020.
David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, called attention to the purple suburbs in Covington, Ky., that helped Democrats oust Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and elevate Attorney General Andy Beshear, whose winning margin was a razor-thin 5,100 votes.
“It’s been red almost every single year,” Mr. Pepper said of the Cincinnati-adjacent Kentucky suburbs. “Obviously that was a big shift, perhaps the biggest change that allowed Beshear to win, but it also speaks to this similar trend on the Ohio side of the river.”
Three northern Kentucky suburbs helped deliver Mr. Beshear his win, even while Mr. Bevin managed to increase his vote total from 2015, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer analysis.
Democrats are hoping for the same phenomenon to take hold in Ohio — where they hold up Westerville, the Columbus suburb that hosted the last Democratic debate, as a prime example.
“What was telling to me was what happened in the Cincinnati suburbs,” Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, the only Democrat to win statewide in 2018, said on Wednesday. “I think in the suburbs, educated suburban women are increasingly unhappy with the direction of the country, and I think that showed last night.”
Mr. Pepper cited wins in places like Bowling Green — where a new Democratic mayor was running uncontested — and Reynoldsburg and Chillicothe in central Ohio, and even some rural areas.
“This goes beyond central Ohio,” he said. “We’re turning suburbs purple and in some cases outright blue.”
“The problem for Republicans is that they have to pretend to be Democrats because so many voters are alienated by Trump,” said Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper of Cincinnati. “The Trump brand is toxic. They have to run away from it to have any chance.”
The toxicity of Trump and his unpopularity among suburban women, Pepper said, explains in part why in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming, a town of moderate Republicanism in the past, the top five finishers in a race for seven at-large seats on city council went to Democrats Tuesday night.
The same happened in suburbs all over Ohio that night – in Reynoldsburg, a traditionally Republican suburb of Columbus, every single municipal office, from mayor on down, went to Democrats – including three African American women.
On Tuesday night, Ohio Democrats had wins across the state …
In Trumbull County — which shifted 30 percentage points toward Donald Trump:
Doug Franklin won re-election Tuesday to his third term as mayor, winning 67 percent to 33 over independent Randy Law. It was Franklin’s largest margin of victory yet, despite nearly $120,000 being spent by a political action committee on Law’s behalf.
“It was a cheap political stunt that insulted the residents of Warren,” Franklin said of the TV advertisements, fliers and other campaign materials generated by the America’s Tomorrow PAC.
“The vote was a statement by our community that the city cannot be bought by outside cash.”
Franklin said he thinks the in-kind money provided by the PAC backfired on Law, saying it “caused the community to rally around my campaign.”
In Huron County — which went for Trump 65-29:
Dave Light, a Democrat, defeated Republican incumbent Rob Duncan in Tuesday’s election. According to the unofficial results from the Huron County Board of Elections, Light had nearly 62 percent of the votes (2,121 votes), compared to about 38 percent (1,501 votes) for Duncan.
“Ecstatic on one the hand (and) so excited, but it’s very humbling,” said Light as he attempted to control his emotions while celebrating with friends and family. “I knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but all these people have been campaigning all year long nonstop.”
Going door to door, Light said he learned what “the needs and wants” of the Norwalk residents are.
In Coshocton — a city that Trump won 60-33:
A majority of Coshocton voters bought into Mark Mills campaign slogan of progress can’t wait.
The Democrat defeated incumbent Republican Steve Mercer to become the new mayor of Coshocton during Tuesday’s general election. Mills had 1,711 votes to 1,072 for Mercer, in unofficial vote totals from the Coshocton County Board of Elections.
“I feel like it’s not only a win for me, but for the people of Coshocton. It’s their win, I’m just a catalyst for the people,” Mills said. “I’m glad people have faith in my abilities to change and move our city in a forward direction.”
In Lawrence County — which went for Trump 70-26:
By a margin of 70.4 to 27.95 percent, the new mayor of Ironton is Sam Cramblit II.
In Tuesday night’s general election, he got 2,055 votes to incumbent Mayor Katrina Keith’s 816 votes.
“I’m extremely humbled by that,” Cramblit said of the turnout. “I’m really thankful for the support and everyone coming out to support our vision of the city.”
Cramblit said he and the three new Ironton City councilmen, Chris Haney, Mike Pierce and Jacob Hock ran campaigns on change for the city of Ironton.
“There have been a lot of people around town that gave us confidence and we are embracing that change,” Cramblit said. “When you win by that kind of margin, you know you have support and it is remarkable.”
In Hilliard — a central Ohio suburb that flipped from red to blue in 2016:
Hilliard voters have elected a Democrat to Hilliard City Council for the first time in three decades, as Cynthia Vermillion claimed one of the three seats up for election Nov. 5.
According to final unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections on Nov. 5, Republican Pete Marsh led the field with 3,104 votes (17.9%), Vermillion was a close second with 3,042 (17.6%) and Republican Omar Tarazi had 2,939 (17%), with all 23 precincts reporting.
Marsh and Tarazi are current officeholders; the third, Republican Nathan Painter, did not seek reelection. Marsh and Tarazi were appointed to council in early 2018 and 2019, respectively, replacing Joe Erb and Albert Iosue, who each resigned.
Vermillion is the first Democrat council member elected in Hilliard since 1989.
Vermillion thanked the voters who supported her.
“I’m thrilled to represent the people of Hilliard on City Council and give them a voice,” she said. “We worked hard for a year and have a feel for what’s important to the residents.”
In Reynoldsburg — a diverse and growing suburban central Ohio community:
While Columbus holds the title of the fastest growing city in the Midwest, the suburb of Reynoldsburg is experiencing a boom of its own, attributed mostly to its rapidly-expanding Nepali-Bhutanese community.
It’s that same immigrant population that helped propel Bhuwan Pyakurel to win a seat on Reynoldsburg City Council this week. Pyakurel’s victory makes him the first Nepali-Bhutanese elected official in the country.
“So this is a really big deal for me and the community of Reynoldsburg,” Pyakurel says.
Toledo Blade: Ohio party leaders look for 2020 clues in 2019 election
Warren Tribune Chronicle: Doug Franklin lays down Randy Law
Norwalk Reflector: Light defeats Duncan in mayor’s election
Coshocton Tribune: Mark Mills says his mayoral win is one for the people
Ironton Tribune: Cramblit wins Ironton mayor race
ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News: Hilliard: Vermillion becomes first Democrat elected to council in 30 years; Marsh, Tarazi also at top of vote counts