“Butler County is solid, conservative GOP,” Jones said. “When we get organized and get behind a candidate, no county in the nation can match our efforts. History proves it.”
In past elections, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones’ endorsement has been courted by presidential, gubernatorial, congressional and local candidates. The sheriff was an early supporter of President Donald Trump, and made appearances for then-candidate Trump during his Cincinnati campaign stops in 2016. GREG LYNCH/STAFF
Butler County has been a red county for the last few decades, and Republicans held every countywide and county judicial position. Today, Republicans hold all countywide offices except for one juvenile judgeship.
Butler County was recognized by national news organizations as a key county to help President George W. Bush win Ohio in his 2004 re-election bid. But unlike 2004, Butler County wasn’t as crucial for Trump winning Ohio, and the data show it wasn’t a sweeping victory in Butler County.
Trump’s vote total in 2016 ranked 13th out of the 20 countywide races in Butler County. Among the countywide candidates that received significantly more votes than Trump were Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, and Jones.
Fewer Butler County residents participated in the 2016 election (176,301) than in 2008 (222,914) and 2012 (205,413) when President Barack Obama bested Sen. John McCain and Mitt Romney in his election and re-election bids, respectively.
And in Bush’s 2004 re-election, he received nearly 3,000 more votes than Trump (109,872 to 106,976) in the close election. Bush won Ohio by 118,601 votes while Trump won Ohio by more than 446,800 votes.
OHIO NEWS: Lt. Gov. Husted warns White House to continue coverage of pre-existing conditions
Butler County Democratic Party Chairman Brian Hester said Trump’s presidency has not benefited Butler County.
He said the economy under Trump is not a rosy picture, noting that Butler County unemployment is higher than a year ago. The county's unemployment rate as of February 2019, the latest available data, is at 4 percent, but it exceeded that threshold nine times since January 2018. Hester also cites GM's layoffs of 100 people in West Chester Twp. as more evidence of a declining economy under Trump.
Hester also noted that Jones asked former presidents Barack Obama and Bush to intervene to end the longest-ever government shutdown.
“Jones said Trump’s shutdown made America ‘look inept to all these other counties in the world,’” said Hester. “The Republicans didn’t offer any message or cite how Trump has made our lives better than three years ago. They can’t.”
Trump took credit in December 2018 for the then-looming government shutdown.
Hester then cites the 2018 election as proof voters are considering other options in Butler County. Butler County Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate and the 51st and 52nd Ohio House races received more than 40 percent of the vote. The last time countywide or Butler County Statehouse candidates received 40 percent happened in the 2008 and 2006 elections.
Hester said during the 2020 campaign his party will “remind every voter … of Trump’s broken promises and failed leadership.”
But Jones believes 2016 will be duplicated as they had “waves of people” visiting the four Trump campaign offices in Butler County.
“The energy was incredible,” he said