Some Interesting Primary Battles Coming In Hamilton County

Feb 25, 2018

The primary contests for Ohio governor and U.S. Senate on the May 8 primary ballot will get much of the attention, there are a number of contested primaries here in southwest Ohio as well.

This week, we will look at the top primary races in Hamilton County. And, in weeks to come, we will do the same with contested primaries in the region.

Here we go:  

Ohio Senate – 9th District

Four years ago, former Cincinnati council member Cecil Thomas defeated then-State Rep. Dale Mallory in a six-way Democratic primary by 556 votes.

Thomas went on to defeat Republican council member Charlie Winburn easily in the heavily Democratic, central city district.

This year, Mallory, is looking to get back into public office, is trying again. This time, though, he is the only Democrat challenging Thomas on the Democratic ballot.

There's no question that Mallory is a potent name among Cincinnati's African-American voters, who make up the majority of the district, but Thomas is no slouch himself among black voters. A former Cincinnati police officer, he always ran low-budget campaigns for city council and won handily with the help of black voters.

Mallory not only carries a well-known name into this primary, but some political baggage as well. In 2014, he was convicted of taking Bengals tickets from lobbyists and not reporting them as gifts.

Republicans aren’t much of a factor in this district. They have no candidate on the ballot. Thomas Chandler has filed as a Republican write-in.

So this likely one of those cases where the primary election is, in fact, the general election.

State Representative, 33rd District

The incumbent Democrat, Alicia Reece, is term-limited out.

The Hamilton County Democratic Party has endorsed Sedrick Denson, a former aide to Cincinnati council member Wendell Young, as its candidate to replace her.

But Denson has a Democratic primary opponent.

Kathy Goodwin-Williams, a Lincoln Heights village council member, has filed on the Democratic side.

This is another case where the district is very Democratic and the winner of the primary is, almost certainly, the winner of the November election.

Hamilton County Commissioner

Incumbent Republican commissioner Chris Monzel doesn't have a primary challenger to worry about.

But there is a contest on the Democratic side.

The Democratic Party has endorsed James Wolf, a teacher and the mayor of Mt. Healthy, as its candidate to take on Monzel.

But Stephanie Summerow Dumas of Lincoln Heights, a former mayor in Forest Park, is also on the Democratic ballot.

Wolf is the leading candidate on the Democratic side; and if he wins the primary, his biggest challenge will be to try to be competitive with Monzel in terms of fundraising.

But Hamilton County has taken a decidedly blue hue in recent years, so it's not crazy to think of this as a very competitive race.

State Representative, 28th District

The incumbent Republican, Jonathan Dever, faces opposition only from two write-in candidates.

On the Democratic side, though, there are two candidates on the ballot in the northern Hamilton County district.

Jessica Miranda, who is president of the Winton Woods Board of Education, has the endorsement of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

Paul Sohi, who ran two years ago in the Democratic primary in the 31st District and lost, has moved into the 28th District and filed as a primary candidate. He is a pediatric dentist.

Ohio Second Congressional District (Democratic)

One of the more interesting first-time candidates on the ballot in May is Democrat Jill Schiller, a former Obama White House aide.

She's running for the Democratic nomination in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, which stretches from eastern Hamilton County to Pike and Scioto counties in the east.

It's been a solidly Republican district for decades. The Republican incumbent, Brad Wenstrup, has won by an average of 27 percentage points in his three times on the ballot. His Republican predecessors in the Second District – Jean Schmidt, Rob Portman, and Willis Gradison – had similar success.

Schiller emerged as a potential Democratic challenger to Wenstrup in January. She worked in the Obama administration's Office of Management and Budget.

She moved to Cincinnati in 2011 when her husband took a job with Omnicare. She served for a time as vice president of Downtown Cincinnati Inc. Now, the Hyde Park resident runs a non-profit consulting firm.

Schiller has some backing in the party, but she will have to fight for the nomination.

Janet Everhard, a retired physician from New Richmond, ran as a write-in candidate two years ago.

This year, Everhard is on the primary ballot and she has been working almost non-stop since the 2016 election to gather support in the sprawling district.

Then there is William R. "Bud" Smith, the truck driver from Waverly in Pike County.

Smith's been on the primary ballot a few times; and in 2016, he won the primary and represented the Democratic party in the general election.

Smith did not do a lick of campaigning and was almost impossible to find – the invisible candidate. But, still, he managed somehow to get nearly 42 percent of the vote. A respectable showing for a candidate who was never seen nor heard from after the filing deadline.

Go figure.