Cordray scores impressive win in Democratic race for governor


Election officials in Mahoning and Trumbull accurately predicted voter turnout in their counties while Columbiana County came in lower than expected.

Turnout in Mahoning County was 24.5 percent with Thomas McCabe, its board of elections deputy director, predicting turnout between 22 percent and 25 percent before Tuesday’s primary.

About 25 percent of registered voters in Trumbull County came out to vote in the primary election. Stephanie Penrose, its elections director, had predicted turnout between 23 percent and 25 percent.

Turnout in Columbiana County was only 20 percent. Elections Director Adam Booth had predicted turnout between 24 percent and 25 percent. Still it was better than the 15-percent turnout in 2014, the last gubernatorial primary.

In the statewide gubernatorial races, Richard Cordray’s victory in the Democratic primary stands out.

Cordray was in a crowded field of six candidates and managed to get a strong majority with 62 percent of the vote, easily beating ex-U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who came in second with only 23 percent of the vote.

Cordray won 86 of Ohio’s 88 counties with state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman winning the other two: his home county of Mahoning and neighboring Trumbull.

That Schiavoni captured those two counties shows his strength in the Mahoning Valley, and he’ll likely be used as a Cordray surrogate in this area during the campaign.

However, Cordray has run statewide and done well in the Valley in the past, so I expect him to be strong here in the general election.

Schiavoni’s low name recognition outside of the Valley and his inability to raise money to get anywhere near Cordray doomed his campaign.

He acknowledged that after the results came in Tuesday night.

“I didn’t have the money to catch [Cordray] without going on TV,” Schiavoni said to me. “But it was a good run.”

Before the primary, Schiavoni downplayed his inability to raise money saying he was focused on online media and TV advertising wasn’t important.

He was wrong.

And he didn’t attract interest outside the Valley. Of the 62,315 votes Schiavoni received, 25,667 came from Mahoning and Trumbull. That’s an astonishing 41 percent of his total vote from the two counties.

On the Republican side, as expected, Attorney General Mike DeWine won the Republican primary, beating Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor by 20 percentage points in an expensive and very bitter battle.

Before the primary, Taylor said she wouldn’t endorse DeWine if he won, but don’t be surprised to see her eventually do so at some point. However, the damage may have already been done to DeWine. Taylor spent months and millions of dollars calling her opponent “DC DeWine,” “liberal” and a “fake conservative.”

DeWine has proven to be a very popular candidate over the years so I would still give him the edge at this point over Cordray in the general election.

Perhaps the biggest surprise statewide was in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat.

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who had endorsements from President Donald Trump and the Ohio Republican Party, won, but he received only 47 percent of the vote.

First-time statewide candidate Mike Gibbons received 32 percent of the vote with a group of lesser-knowns getting the rest of the support.

Renacci failed to impress in a less-than-impressive field of Republicans so he’s going to have to step up his game in the general election against incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown.

In Mahoning County, the only mild surprise was not the victory by Anthony Donofrio in the Democratic primary for a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court seat, but how strong of a win it was.

Between Jan. 1 and April 18, his opponent, Dan Dascenzo, a court magistrate, raised more money than Donofrio – $76,045 to $44,575.

But Donofrio, Youngstown’s deputy law director, beat him 57 percent to 43 percent.

Donofrio is running unopposed in the general election so his longtime dream of becoming a judge – like his father and brother – will finally come true.

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