Only 1 Butler County Statehouse seat will have a contested primary

From left, Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, former state lawmaker and county commissioner Greg Jolivette, and Butler County philanthropist Sara Carruthers
From left, Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, former state lawmaker and county commissioner Greg Jolivette, and Butler County philanthropist Sara Carruthers

The Ohio House Democratic Caucus hopes this year’s election will be a referendum on Ohio’s Republican leadership for the past several years, and it made sure to get candidates into all races.

Democrats said Wednesday that all 99 Ohio House seats will be contested by a Democratic candidate, including the four seats that cover Butler County.

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“We are experiencing an unprecedented level of enthusiasm amongst Democrats here in Ohio,” said Ohio House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Aaron Fisher. “This enthusiasm has produced a real appetite to hold Republican legislators accountable and to elect leaders that will be change agents in every corner of the state.”

The last time Democrats controlled the Ohio House was in 2011 when Ohio Gov. John Kasich was first elected. Since then, Republicans have controlled both chambers of the Statehouse. The last time Democrats controlled the Ohio Senate was in the 115th General Assembly, which started in 1983.

In order to qualify for the May 8 primary election — which chooses party nominees for elections this fall — had to file petitions for office by 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7. Winners of the primary will advance to the Nov. 6 general election. All petitions filed Wednesday, as well as petitions not yet certified for the May 8 ballot, will be considered for certification for the ballot by the Butler County Board of Elections on Feb. 20.

All write-in candidates must file petitions by Feb. 26, and those names will be considered for certification on Feb. 27.

Local Democrats seeking one of the county’s Statewide seats include: Susan Vaughn of Hamilton, running for the 51st Ohio House District seat; former county elections board member Kathy Wyenandt of Liberty Twp., running for the 52nd Ohio House District seat and Rebecca Howard of Reily Twp., running for the 53rd Ohio House District seat.

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In Warren County, Democrat and Air Force veteran Nikki Foster will challenge Ohio Rep. Paul Zeltwanger in the 54th Ohio House District, which overlaps into Butler County portion of the city of Middletown. Democrat Jim Stanton will face the winner of the GOP primary election between Ohio Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, and challenger Daniel Kroger in the 62nd Ohio House District. The 62nd District represents the western portions of Warren County.

“We have a tremendous group of women running from Butler County districts this year, including a combat Air Force veteran, two educators, and a small business owner,” said Butler County Democratic Party Executive Chairwoman Jocelyn Bucaro. “They have lived to serve others, and it is from that call to service that they are running, inspired in this moment of divisiveness to return principles of integrity and accountability to elected office. They will fight to restore the American idea that if you work hard you should be able to get ahead. And we are confident that after a year of turmoil in our politics, voters here are ready for a change.”

Ohio Reps. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp. (52nd District), and Candice Keller, R-Middletown (53rd District), are running unopposed in the May 8 primary. Lang will face Wyenandt in November while Keller will face Howard. However, incumbent Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, will have a contested primary for the 51st District as he will face off with former state lawmaker Greg Jolivette and Hamilton philanthropist Sara Carruthers.

Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall said his party has fielded “great candidates” for the Statehouse districts in the county.

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“In November, county voters will be thrilled to know that they will be able to return strong Republican and reliably conservative candidates to the Statehouse, and no doubt will do so in convincing numbers,” Hall said.

The Butler County GOP endorsed Lang and Carruthers last month for Statehouse seats. Keller did not seek the endorsement, and Retherford was screened but did not ask for the party's endorsement.

Just like the local Republicans, the state Republican Party isn’t concerned by a full complement of Ohio House Democrat challengers, said spokesman Blaine Kelly.

“What platform do these 99 Democrats plan to run on? If it’s the same platform that statewide and federal Democrat candidates are using, which is to obstruct the booming economy, increasing wages and job opportunities that Republican policies have brought about, then they will meet the same fate in November — defeat,” he said.


There are just a handful of contested primary elections set for May 8, which is also pending certification of petitions filed by the 4 p.m. deadline on Wednesday. Here are the contested primary elections:

8th Ohio Congressional District

Democratic Party

Bill Ebben, of West Chester Twp.

Vanessa Enoch, of West Chester Twp.

Ted Jones, of Piqua

Matthew Guyette, of Greenville

Stephen Shaw, of Greenville

51st Ohio House District

Republican Party

Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, of Hamilton

Sara Carruthers, of Hamilton

Greg Jolivette, of Hamilton

Butler County Commission

Republican Party

Commissioner Cindy Carpenter, of Oxford

West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong, of West Chester Twp.

Source: Butler County Board of Elections