Ohio’s virus-extended primary election forced Hamilton County candidates to spend an extra four weeks parrying their intraparty rivals instead of shoring up support for November. Social distancing safety measures ensured they’d have to do it without their usual tools: No door-knocking, no shaking hands and definitely no kissing babies.
By Tuesday night, Republicans and Democrats alike were ready for their endurance run to be over. Some held election parties on Facebook. Some waited quietly at home for results that wouldn’t arrive until well after midnight.
“Like most folks, we are just going to wait and see,” said former federal prosecutor Gabe Davis, who hopes to win Hamilton County Democrats’ nomination for prosecutor. “Every vote should be counted for everybody who registered in the county, and we expect that that will happen."
He and fellow Democrat Fanon Rucker, a former Hamilton County Municipal Court judge, both hope to unseat Republican Joe Deters in November. It could be a tough sell. Deters, 63, has been Hamilton County’s prosecuting attorney since 2005, and he held the position from 1992-’99 before that.
Beating entrenched candidates of either party will require opponents to unify their own bases. The primary extension means they’ll be starting their efforts to do so far later than usual, according to Hamilton County GOP chairman Alex Triantafilou.
“They want the primary to be over so they can unite their own camp,” he said of his party’s three hopefuls for a spot on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. “This has delayed that process of uniting the camp.”
The primary-season marathon won’t even officially be over on Wednesday morning. In Ohio’s mail-only primary, any ballot postmarked by April 27 must be counted — and, per Hamilton County Board of Elections executive director Sherry Poland, many more were still coming in by Tuesday night.