Michele Lepore- Hagan won the four-person Democratic primary to succeed her husband in the Ohio House of Representatives.
No one filed as a Republican or an independent candidate in the Democratic-heavy 58th Ohio House District race. Lepore-Hagan won’t face an opponent in the November general election unless someone files a long-shot write-in campaign by the Aug. 25 deadline.
Lepore-Hagan captured 47 percent of the vote with Youngstown Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, coming in a distant second with 26 percent of the vote, according to unofficial totals from the Mahoning County Board of Elections.
“I’m thrilled, I’m honored and I’m so ready to take on this challenge,” Hagan said. “I worked really hard, and had the most amazing support group helping and encouraging me.”
Her husband, Robert, has held the House seat for nearly eight years and couldn’t run for it again this year because of the state’s term-limits law. He has been a state representative or state senator since 1987.
Lepore-Hagan, of Youngstown, received the endorsements of the Mahoning County and Ohio Democratic parties and numerous labor organizations and unions, in her first bid for elected office.
She also raised considerably more money than the combined amounts of her three primary opponents — Tarpley, Cynthia McWilson and Michael O’Hara, all of Youngstown.
As of April 16, the most recent finance reporting deadline, Lepore-Hagan raised $69,553 to $20,889 for Tarpley and $1,100 from O’Hara. McWilson failed to file a report.
O’Hara finished in third in Tuesday’s vote with 15 percent with Wilson in last with 12 percent.
Tarpley is a two-term Youngstown councilwoman while McWilson unsuccessfully ran for the city’s 5th Ward seat in 1999 and 2003 while O’Hara has unsuccessfully run for various elected offices during the past 30 years.
The other candidates had criticized Lepore-Hagan, the director of the Performing Arts Series in Youngstown State University’s College of Creative Arts and Communications, for running on her husband’s name.
But she said she ran on her own merit.
“I needed to prove myself because I’ve never run for office before and because I’m married to Bobby,” Lepore-Hagan said.
“I had to work hard to prove who I am and that I’m ready to take on these challenges. The results show I’m qualified and people believe in me.”
The 58th District includes all of Youngstown, Struthers, Campbell, Lowellville and Coitsville and 36 of the 40 precincts in Austintown Township.