Superior fundraising might have clinched county elections for Democrats

Driehaus, Portune, Neil and Pureval all outraised opponents they defeated

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Democrats raised more money than Republicans in five of the seven most important non-judicial elections in Hamilton County in 2016, perhaps the deciding factor in taking four of those offices last month.

The race that attracted the most money was that between Democrat Denise Driehaus and Republican Dennis Deters for one of two contested seats on the Board of County Commissioners. Driehaus, winding down a term in the Ohio House of Representatives, received 50.6 percent of the vote in her win over Dennis Deters, who was trying to keep a seat he was appointed to in January.

Having a bigger campaign war chest could have accounted for Driehaus’ margin of victory of 1.2 percentage points. She reported receiving $699,396 in contributions through Dec. 9, according to campaign finance reports filed last Friday with the Hamilton County Board of Elections. Deters received $509,325. Driehaus collected $100,902 in the nearly two-month stretch after Oct. 19, compared with $64,290 for Deters. 

click to enlarge Newly elected Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus
Newly elected Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus

Incumbent County Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat, overwhelmed his Republican opponent Andrew Pappas in both monetary contributions and votes. Portune reported $218,594 in receipts through Dec. 9, while Pappas reported $115,835. Portune won the election with 58.4 percent of the vote.

The Driehaus and Portune victories will, in January, give Democrats control of the three-seat County Commission for the first time in more than four years. 

In another race where money could have affected the outcome, Democratic challenger Aftab Pureval raised $366,810 in his quest to be clerk of courts. Republican incumbent Tracy Winkler reported $132,727 in contributions. Pureval applied the greater spending power on TV ads that helped propel him to a nearly 5-point margin of victory. His fund-raising superiority held till the end, as he received $56,786 in the final reporting period, compared with Winkler’s $32,245.

In other races: 

  Incumbent Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil, a Democrat, reported cumulative receipts of $133,547 through Dec. 9. His Republican challenger, Gary Lee, received $101,373. Neil won with almost 62 percent of the vote.

  Retired judge Norbert Nadel can probably credit his fund-raising prowess for his slim (50.3 to 49.7 percent) win over incumbent county Recorder Wayne Coates. A Republican, Nadel raised $68,501 through Dec. 9. Coates raised $36,730. 

  Although out-raised and outspent by his challenger, incumbent Treasurer Rob Goering, a Republican, defeated Democrat Seth Walsh. Walsh raised $49,986 in contributions versus Goering’s $31,172. Goering won 55 percent of the vote even though he spent less than half of his campaign funds.

The race between incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Joe Deters and Democratic challenger Alan Triggs was a mismatch in votes and money. Deters received $124,325 in contributions through Dec. 9, compared with $15,258 for Triggs. Deters won re-election by nine percentage points.

CONTACT JAMES McNAIR: [email protected] / @jmacnews on Twitter / 513-914-2736

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