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No upsets, but interesting results

While there weren’t any upsets in Tuesday’s primary election, there were some interesting results.

I must mention that during the COVID-19 pandemic, we shouldn’t take these results as indicators of what will happen in the general election.

Turnout was extraordinarily low as expected because of the virus and few hotly contested races and issues on the ballot. The lack of presidential competition also kept many voters away.

Turnout as of Tuesday was 27.45 percent in Trumbull County. That will increase once all mail-in ballots are counted — but not by much.

The lowest primary turnout in recent memory was 2012 with 24.74 percent in Trumbull.

Stephanie Penrose, director of the Trumbull County Board of Elections, had predicted about 35 percent turnout for this week’s primary. She is an optimist.

Her reasoning wasn’t flawed. There were a number of contested races and tax levies for Trumbull County voters to consider.

But with greater concerns than voting in the primary, Trumbull County residents stayed away.

The biggest surprise of the primary wasn’t Christina M. Hagan’s win in the Republican primary for the 13th Congressional District nomination, but her complete and total dominance.

It didn’t come as a shock that she won as it has looked for a long time like it would be a race between her and Louis G. Lyras. Both are on opposite ends of the Republican political spectrum with Hagan a hardcore conservative and Lyras a liberal Republican.

They were the only two candidates among the seven seeking the Republican nomination to raise at least $100,000 with Lyras almost solely funding his own campaign. Hagan also benefited by at least $75,000 from a dark money group that touted her candidacy while attacking Lyras.

When the results came in, Hagan won all five counties — by a lot — and captured 66 percent of the vote.

Lyras was a distant second with 12 percent with Robert J. Santos in third with 11.4 percent. None of the other four candidates did better than 3.5 percent.

While Hagan was the only candidate among the seven to ever be elected to public office, she still captured two-thirds of the vote in a crowded field. That’s an impressive feat.

With the dark money group backing her, she should give U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, his toughest challenge since he was first elected in 2002.

One thing to note is Ryan, who ran unopposed for his party’s nomination, received 59,609 votes. All seven Republican candidates combined got 28,155 votes.

Again, this occurred during a pandemic, so I don’t know how that translates to the general election. But that’s still a lot of courtesy votes for Ryan.

In Trumbull County, none of the contested primaries was close.

The only mild surprise was that the heated Democratic engineer’s race between incumbent Randy Smith and David DeChristofaro, the former engineer, was pretty close to a blowout. Smith received 63.3 percent to 36.7 percent for DeChristofaro.

The Democratic presidential primary had one major underlying condition.

While the nominee has been former Vice President Joe Biden for a while, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont was still a candidate when the Ohio Department of Health postponed the state’s primary from March 17, so there was technically a race for early voters. Also, eight other former candidates had their names on the ballot.

Biden got 77 percent of the vote while Sanders received 12.4 percent. I’d presume a majority of Sanders’ support came from those early voters when he was still in the race.

In Trumbull County, the unopposed Democrat with the most votes was state Sen. Sean J. O’Brien with 19,512. The countywide Democrats without challengers got about 17,000 to 19,000 votes except for Lawrence M. D’Amico, who is running for the open coroner’s seat. He received 15,488 votes.

On the Republican side, the only unopposed Republican county candidate — not including judges running for court of appeals and Ohio Supreme Court — was Larry Woods, seeking the coroner’s position. He received 9,199 votes.

The Republican judicial candidates each received a few hundred more votes than Woods.

Skolnick covers politics for the Tribune Chronicle.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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