Political rookie Sara Carruthers beats incumbent Wes Retherford in Statehouse primary

Sara Carruthers said she was running “for the right reasons,” and Republicans in the 51st Ohio House District agreed.

The 55-year-old political rookie from Hamilton will now advance to face Democrat Susan Vaughn in the Nov. 6 general election, according to final, unofficial results from the Butler County Board of Elections.

ELECTION RESULTS: Get your complete election results in Butler County here

Carruthers bested her two other opponents — incumbent Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, and former state lawmaker and county commissioner Greg Jolivette — receiving 46.6 percent of the vote. Retherford received 31.8 percent and Jolivette received 21.6 percent, according to unofficial results.

An elated Carruthers said she still has work to do, but after taking a day off.

“I plan on taking a day off and getting right back with it — kind of hit the ground running,” she said. “I think the hard work paid off and I have a wonderful crew that I’m very thankful for, and I just think we just keep moving to the future.”

Carruthers said she already has some meetings planned in Columbus and around the county.

A disappointed Retherford attributes his loss to the money Carruthers put into her campaign, specifically an $180,000 loan that she nearly spent. Most of that was spent on ads in the Greater Cincinnati television market.

“It’s hard to compete with $200,000,” said Retherford. “I still have 6½, almost seven, more months left and I still have a lot of work to do.”

Specifically, he said he wants to get his Victims Privacy and Protection Act, House Bill 451, through the Ohio Senate. That bill was passed by the House in March and assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Carruthers said she’s running because Columbus and the office “is a mess” and wants to take her community influence to the Statehouse.

The Carruthers’ family is known for their philanthropic activities, donating to several projects around the county, including the Donna Y. Carruthers Fine Arts Center at Wilson Middle School, Ralph Rogan Carruthers Intensive Care Unit, Donna Y. Carruthers Cardiovascular Suites, and Carruthers Emergency Department and Gebhardt Center Cancer Treatment Center at Fort Hamilton Hospital.

ELECTION PROFILE: Carruthers says she’s running because she cares for the district

She and her family have supported the city of Hamilton because “this place pumps through my veins and I want it to succeed.”

And she wants to do that for the rest of the 51st Ohio District, which includes all of the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield, and Ross Twp., and parts of Fairfield, Hanover and St. Clair townships.

If she is elected in the November election, she said she would focus on education, jobs and the drug crisis that’s devastated the area.

She also wants to help create an environment where even more jobs are brought within the district, as well as filling the jobs already available.

Democrat Susan Vaughn, 67, had no primary opponent. She said now that she’s got a November opponent, she’ll be ramping up her campaigning.

“I think I have what is a really, really good team that’s going to support me in all kinds of ways,” said Vaughn, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary election.

Even though she said she “got a head start” in campaigning in an uncontested primary, she said now she has “to get out there.”

“I have to tell people who I am, what I’m about and why I should be the candidate in November that takes it all the way to Columbus,” she said.

Vaughn told the Journal-News she’s running because “ethics” has been one of the top issues with many of the people she’s spoken with around the district.

Vaughn is Miami University’s director of the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution, and is retiring from the school in July.

Vaughn announced her candidacy in November, some six months after Retherford’s March 2017 OVI sentencing, and weeks after a pair of Ohio lawmakers — Cliff Hite, of Findlay, and Wes Goodman, of Cardington — resigned after allegations of inappropriate conduct.

Vaughn earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Miami University in 1982 and a master’s degree in sociology in 1986. She’s worked at Miami University for 33 years, and has been in her current position since 1996.

She lives in Hamilton with her husband, John, and they have two children.

Vaughn and her son were contestants on the seventh season of "The Amazing Race" in 2005. They were the first mother/son team to be on The Amazing Race and came in eighth place.

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