Former State Rep. Alicia Reece Wins Democratic Party Primary for Hamilton County Commission Seat

Reece, a veteran local political figure, will face Republican businessman Andy Black in the November election.

Apr 29, 2020 at 9:32 am
Alicia Reece - Provided
Alicia Reece

Democratic voters in Hamilton County chose former State Rep. Alicia Reece in a three-way race to consider for an open seat on the Hamilton County Commission left by the retirement and passing of former commissioner and long-time political powerhouse Todd Portune. 

Former State Reps. Reece and Connie Pillich and community activist Kelli Prather battled it out for that seat, which is currently occupied by Portune's former chief of staff Victoria Parks. She won't seek a full term on the commission, however. 

Reece grabbed support from Cincinnati leaders on her path to a roughly 2,000 vote victory. Mayor John Cranley, Greater Cincinnati NAACP Vice President Joe Mallory and influential faith leaders Rev. Damon Lynch III and Rev. KZ Smith all endorsed her, as did a number of other city leaders.

But there were plenty of signs of strength in the Pillich campaign, too.

The Air Force veteran had about $540,000 from a gubernatorial primary bid that election laws allow her to use in the commission race, as well as a track record of winning election three times in the county's 28th State House District — a very competitive district. Portune also endorsed Pillich before he passed away.

Prather didn't raise much money, but had previously raised her profile somewhat with an unsuccessful bid for Cincinnati City Council and in the Democratic Party primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2016. She came in third in that race behind former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Cincinnati City Council member P.G. Sittenfeld, garnering about 13 percent of the vote. 

Reece received 32,689 votes, according to unofficial Hamilton County Board of Election results released this morning. Pillich garnered 30,838 and Prather got 6,770.

Reece will face Republican Andy Black in the general election in November. Black ran unopposed in his party's primary. Black is an Indian Hill businessman who previously served as a Mariemont council member.

There was another, lower-profile primary for Hamilton County Commission going on that Republicans saw on their ballots. The party is deciding who will oppose commission president Denise Driehaus in November — a task that has proven difficult. The county GOP's first choice, Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils, dropped out soon after launching his campaign last December. 

That left a somewhat confusing three-way contest:  Hamilton County GOP office manager Debbie Flammer was supposed to be a placeholder candidate who would be replaced by someone of the party's choosing after an uncontested primary. But then two other Republicans — Oakley resident Matt O'Neill, an accountant, and Symmes Township resident David McCollough — filed for the race. 

O'Neill won that contest decisively with 54 percent of the vote.

Driehaus, finishing up her first term on the commission, will be hard to beat. She has big name recognition and is generally popular in a county that has trended increasingly blue.

Ohio's primary election was originally supposed to wrap up with in-person voting March 17, but a last-minute order by Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health closing polls amid concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an extension of absentee voting until April 28.