The Hamilton County Democratic Party furthered its grip on the increasingly-blue county in the 2020 elections, but a big prize remained just out of its grasp: the prosecutor's office.
Republican Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters managed to beat back a challenge from Democrat attorney Fanon Rucker, who pledged reforms to the county's justice system.
That contest was a replay of a race between Rucker and Deters for the same office 16 years ago. Deters won and has occupied the office ever since.
The rematch came as activists' cries to address racial disparities in the justice system both locally and nationally have grown louder. Rucker pledged he would eliminate cash bonds and make other changes to the system. Deters sought to tie him to movements to defund policing that swept across the country in the wake of police killings of unarmed black citizens like George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.
Deters garnered almost 53 percent of the vote to Rucker's 47 percent.
But another reform-minded candidate, former Hamilton County Justice Center Commander Charmaine McGuffey, prevailed in the race for the Hamilton County Sheriff's office over Republican Bruce Hoffbauer, who ran on a stark law and order platform. Earlier this year, McGuffey prevailed in the Democratic Party primary against incumbent Sheriff Jim Neil, a much more conservative member of the party.
Democrat Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus handily maintained her seat, winning 58 percent of the vote over Republican challenger Matthew Paul O'Neal. Her partymate Alicia Reece picked up an open seat on the three-member commission vacated by the death of former Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune. She got 50.6 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Andy Black and independent Herman Najoli .
Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, a Democrat, easily held onto his seat, winning 57 percent of the vote against his Republican challenger Alex Glandorf. Democrat Scott Crowley also took the County Recorder's office from incumbent Republican Norbert Nadel, and Democrat Jill Schiller won her race against Republican Charlie Winburn for the Hamilton County Treasurer's seat.
Democrats also potentially won eight of 13 judicial races for spots in the Hamilton County Courthouse.The results of some of those races are pending, however, due to roughly 15,000 mail-in ballots that have yet to be counted.
Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas results as of midnight, after 100 percent of precincts had reported:
• Republican-backed Judge Melba Marsh won with 52 percent of the vote over her challenger, Democrat-endorsed Heidi Rosales
• At press time, Democrat-endorsed candidate Christian Jenkins led Republican incumbent Judge Pat Dinkelacker by a slim margin — 50.79 to 49.2 — in a race that may not be decided yet.
• Democrat-endorsed Chris Wagner prevailed over Republican Judge Curt Hartman with 57.5 percent of the vote.
• Demcrat-backed attorney Jennifer Branch won against Republican-endorsed Elizabeth Callan with almost 56 percent of the vote.
• Democrat-endorsed Judge Alan C. Triggs won over assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Stacey Degraffenreid.
• Republican-endorsed Robert Goering bested incumbent Democratic Party-backed Thomas O. Beridon with 51.5 percent of the vote.
• Democrat-backed Wende Cross won against Republican-endorsed incumbent Judge Ethna Cooper, gaining 56 percent of the vote.
• Democrat-endorsed Alison Hatheway won against Republican-backed incumbent Judge Charles Kubicki, Jr. with 58.5 percent of the vote.
• Republican-backed Judge Ralph Winkler held onto his seat in the common pleas court's probate division, gaining 53 percent of the vote against challenger Pavan Parikh.
• Democratic Party-backed Nicole Sanders scored 57 percent of the vote as she bested incumbent Republican-endorsed Judge Kim Wilson Burke for her seat in the Drug Court Division.
• Democratic Party endorsed Kari Bloom unseated incumbent Republican-endorsed Judge John Williams in the court's juvenile division.
• Judge Amy Searcy, endorsed by the Republican Party, kept her seat on the court's domestic relations division, fending off a challenge by Democratic Party backed Anne Flottman. Searcy garnered roughly 52 percent of the vote.