What does 2018 hold for the political races of Butler County?

Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, is seeking a return to his fourth, and last, term in the Ohio House before term limits set in. He is expected to see multiple challengers this May in the GOP primary for his seat. FILE

Combined ShapeCaption
Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, is seeking a return to his fourth, and last, term in the Ohio House before term limits set in. He is expected to see multiple challengers this May in the GOP primary for his seat. FILE

History is on the side of the Republicans in Butler County for this year’s Statehouse and countywide elections, but Democrats will aim to change that.

Any Democrat, Republican or Green Party member must file to run in the May 8 primary. Winners of the primary will advance to November’s general election. The filing deadline for the primary is 4 p.m. on Feb. 7.

Butler County Republicans hold all but one countywide judicial and non-judicial office, and all its Statehouse seats, which is why Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd hall said he “can guarantee” his party’s candidates will retain control.

MORE: Democrats have plan to make Butler County blue again

“Our county Republican Party has a strong team of officeholders who have helped make Butler County run efficiently, effectively, and achieve great economic success,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding. Our county has thrived with Republican leaders at the helm.”

However, Butler County Democrats are expected to have a challenger for each of the three Statehouse races.

"Our representatives in Columbus are a statewide embarrassment for Butler County, from their reputation as the laziest members or from courting controversy by appearing on a white nationalist radio talk show," said Butler County Democratic Party spokesman Brian Hester.

“Our candidates will focus on their message of attracting good jobs and developing strong schools so that anyone in this county, whether from West Chester, Middletown, Hamilton or Oxford, who is willing to work hard is able to get ahead.”

The most high-profile race this primary season will be on the Republican side for the 51st Ohio House District seat. Former “The Amazing Race” contestant and Miami University’s ethics office director Susan Vaughn announced her candidacy this past November. The 67-year-old Hamilton resident will be the Democratic Party’s endorsed choice for the race, but who she’ll face won’t be known until May 8.

MORE: Hamilton resident, former reality show star to run against Retherford

As of now, Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, has four potential challengers, including Greg Jolivette, one of his 2014 GOP primary challengers and a former state representative.

Jolivette, who held this district seat from October 1997 to January 2004, said he was motivated to run after a survey in “Columbus Monthly” named Retherford the “laziest,” “least engaged” and “least principled” state legislature.

Jolivette said not only does Retherford “have this label in Columbus,” but he made “a life-endangering decision” this past spring when he was arrested and convicted of drunken-driving charge.

“I’m hopeful that the Republican Caucus, which I had been a former member of, does not support him,” Jolivette said. “I don’t know how they justify supporting Wes when there are other candidates, like myself, who can do a better job.”

Retherford dismisses the “Columbus Monthly” article, calling it “an anonymous survey of Columbus insiders.”. He also said he’s “owned up” to his March 12 arrest that nearly cost him his job in Columbus.

Retherford was allegedly found passed out in his pickup truck that was found parked and idling in a McDonald’s drive-thru. A holstered loaded handgun was in his center console.

MORE: Wes Retherford found guilty of OVI charge

Retherford was charged and convicted of operating a vehicle while impaired, a misdemeanor, but a grand jury failed to indict him on a charge of improper handling of a firearm, which was a felony.

“I messed up,” he said. “I’m human. I learned from my mistake. I’ve made drastic changes to show that I learn.”

Both candidates said they will work to fight the opioid epidemic in Ohio and work to have tax dollars for local projects directed to the district.

Other races

The 52nd Ohio House District race will see Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., in his first bid to retain his seat. He was appointed to the seat in September after former lawmaker Margy Conditt resigned.

Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, is expected to be challenged for her 53rd Ohio House District seat by Roshawn Jenkens, of Monroe, in the May primary.

There are expected to be Democratic candidates for the 52nd and 53rd Statehouse races, but none have been announced. Democratic Party officials have said candidates will likely file by the end of the month.

County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter will seek re-election, and it’s unknown if she’ll have a primary opponent. Someone anonymously pulled a petition from the Butler County Board of Elections office.

County Auditor Roger Reynolds, as of now, will be unopposed for the primary.

Butler County Democratic Party officials say they also hope to have opponents for these races in November.

None of the three Butler County Common Pleas Judge candidates — Keith Spaeth, Noah Powers II and Greg Howard — have any GOP challengers or potential Democratic Party challengers at this time.

Who’s running?

Here is the list, as of Jan. 5, of potential candidates seeking their party’s nomination in the May 8 primary election for a Statehouse or countywide seat:

51st Ohio House District

Wes Retherford, of Hamilton, current state representative (R)

Greg Jolivette, of Hamilton, former state representative and county commissioner (R)

Matthew Daniel Taggart, of Hamilton (R)

David T. Davidson, of Hamilton (R)

Sara Proctor Carruthers, of Hamilton (R)

Susan Elaine Vaughn, of Hamilton (D)

52nd Ohio House District

George Lang, of West Chester Twp., current state representative (R)

53rd Ohio House District

Candice Keller, of Middletown, current state representative (R)

Roshawn Jenkins, of Monroe (R)

County Commission

Cindy Capenter, current county commissioner (R)

An anonymous petition was pulled (R)

County Auditor

Roger Reynolds, current county auditor (R)

Common Pleas Court

Keith Spaeth, term beginning Jan. 1, 2019 (R)

Noah Powers II, term beginning Jan. 2, 2019 (R)

Greg Howard, term beginning Jan. 3, 2019 (R)

About the Author