GOP losses weigh on county

By Hunter Ellis , Managing Multimedia Editor 

Hamilton County Republican candidates were nearly completely swept out of county offices and judicial races in 2020, winning just one out of seven contested countywide races and four out of thirteen judicial seats.  

A combination of changing demographics and divisiveness at the top of the ticket doomed republican candidates in Hamilton County in the 2020 election.. 

Based on unofficial vote tallies as of Nov. 4, former Vice President and current President-elect Joe Biden won 57% of Hamilton County, while President Trump won 41%. This puts the margin between the two candidates at 65,086 votes, a large deficit for other Republican candidates down the ticket to overcome. 

Former Cincinnati City Councilman and longtime public servant Charlie Windburn lost the county treasurer seat, a position held for over a decade by Republican Rob Goering to his opponent Jill Schiller by just one point. 

Incumbent Norbert Nadel also narrowly lost his position as the county recorder to first-time candidate and former marine Scott Crowley. 

The county commission remained blue, with first time Republican challengers Andy Black and Matthew Paul O’Neill losing to Democratic counterparts Alicia Reece and Denise Driehaus. 

This is a significant change from just two decades ago, when all three Hamilton County Commissioner seats were held by Republicans. 

Candidate Andy Black noted that Republican candidates in the county were facing an uphill battle with Trump at the top of the ticket. 

“Our research showed suburban voters, particularly woman voters, were sick of the divisiveness we see in our politics at a national level and for those of us down ticket we paid the price,” Black said. 

After getting the endorsement from the incumbent sheriff and outraising his opponent, Bruce Hoffbauer lost to Charmaine McGuffey by just 17,000 votes. 

Hoffbauer believes that moving forward, there are two key things that need to change if Republicans in the county want to be competitive again. First, Hoffbauer says the county should reduce the early voting window 

“I believe the early voting being 30 days long made it impossible for Republicans to recover,” Hoffbauer said. 

In addition, Hoffbauer noted that Democrats voted down ballots more often, which led to them taking more races down the ballot than in years past. 

“The results seem to indicate the Democrat party votes straight down the ticket.  Educating our younger voters will make the contest more balanced,” Hoffbauer said.

The only countywide candidate who was able to garner enough support to beat this deficit was longtime county prosecutor Joe Deters. 

It took Deters raising $1.3 million on the campaign trail, which was the most of any countywide candidate, to secure the slim 5.4 percent win. Deters fundraised just under $1 million more than his opponent, Democrat Fanon Rucker. 

Meanwhile, while judge races are nonpartisan on the ballot, most candidates have an affiliation on party sample ballots. Republican-affiliated judges also lost their races by a large margin.

These losses include longtime judge and incumbent Pat Dinkelacker, as well as the current administrative judge and longtime incumbent Charles Kubicki Jr.