Section: News

Ohio primary elections decide variety of downballot races

On Tuesday, Ohio held both presidential and state primary elections for the 2024 election cycle. Former President Donald Trump won the Republican primary for the 2024 presidential nominee with 79.2% of the vote, and President Joe Biden won the Democratic primary with 87.1%. Three candidates ran for the Republican Senate primary, hoping for the chance to go toe to toe with uncontested Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown in November. Bernie Moreno, a Cleveland businessman endorsed by Donald Trump, won with 50.5% of the vote against both current State Senator Matt Dolan, who was supported by Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

The first Knox County race on the ballot was the Republican nominee race for State Representative of the 98th District, which includes the eastern part of Knox County. Mark Hiner won this race with 54.91% of the vote. The Democratic nominee for State Representative of the 61st District will be David Hogan and the Republican nominee for State Representative of the 61st District will be Beth Lear. There were three races for the Ohio Court of Appeals 5th District, with Robert Montgomery winning the first position beginning on Feb. 9, 2025, Dixie Park winning the second position beginning on Feb. 10 and Patricia Delaney winning the third position beginning on Feb. 11.

Candidates Dan Weckesser, William Shaffer and Wayne Noggle vied for the position of Knox County Sheriff. Weckesser won the race with 5,029 votes, or 46.04%, to Shaffer’s 4,409 votes and Noggle’s 1,486. Weckesser, who has led the Danville police department for eight years, will run unopposed in November. His campaign primarily cites staff retention, drugs, recruitment and mental health as some of the main issues facing the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. 

In the first of two Knox County Commissioner Republican primary races, Barry Lester won with 27.44% of the vote to Scott Zimmerman’s 26.23%, Jennifer Snow’s 23.82% and Jeffrey Harmer’s 22.51%. 

The candidates for the second Knox County Commissioner primary race were incumbent Thom Collier, Bob Phillips and Drenda Keesee. Keesee won with 39.65% of the vote to Phillips’ 33.33% and Collier’s 27.02%. Solar farms have been a hotbed issue this election season, with many Knox County residents protesting the proposed Frasier Solar LLC project, making Collier the only pro-solar candidate in his race.

Other races included the Knox County Treasurer primary, which was won by Connie Durbin and the Knox County Central Committee race, which Bruce Hawkins won. There were Knox County Republican Central Committee races for Clinton A, Howard C and Liberty A, which were won respectively by Berry Lester, Rebecca Nourse and Jon Jones. The Knox County Republican Central Committee races for Miller, Monroe and Morris were won by Drenda Keesee, Kimberly Williams and Terry Divelbiss.

In approaching the primary elections, the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD) released their updated guide to the judicial, state legislative and county races on the primary ballots. CSAD members also tabled in Peirce Dining Hall Atrium on Feb. 15 to help students register for the election and encouraged students via email to request their mail-in ballots early. On the day of the election, Senior Associate for CSAD Joseph Ferrari ’24 emailed the student body with information on where to vote and when the polls would be open. 

According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, the unofficial voter turnout for Knox County was approximately 30.5%, whereas the unofficial turnout for Ohio overall was around 22%.

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