Local primary winners, losers
There were several fascinating storylines from the recent primary election in the Mahoning Valley.
While turnout was poor, it was better than expected.
It was 25.65 percent in Trumbull County, where county races and local issues were on the ballot. It was 23.04 percent in Mahoning County, where very few races but some key local issues appeared for voters’ consideration.
I expected turnout to be better in communities with local issues, but numbers were surprising, particularly in Mahoning County where no countywide races appeared for either Democrats or Republicans.
Turnout for voters in the Canfield school district was 43.63 percent. They largely came to vote against a $107.8 million Canfield bond issue, which received only 28.22 percent support.
In the Lakeview school district, where a 6.8-mill additional levy received 40.74 percent support, turnout was 40.24 percent.
For the first time in probably several decades more Republicans than Democrats voted in the primary in both Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
In Mahoning, 20,833 Republicans voted, compared to 16,144 Democrats.
In Trumbull, 17,731 Republicans voted in the primary, compared to 16,749 Democrats.
It’s the latest sign the two counties, which were Democratic strongholds for more than 80 years, are becoming more competitive.
Of all the primary races, the most interesting to me was for the Democratic nomination in the new 6th Congressional District. The 11-county district, with Mahoning as most populous, had four Democratic candidates on the ballot. But Shawna Roberts of Belmont, one of them, withdrew a day before the primary so her votes didn’t count.
That was a good thing for Louis G. Lyras of Campbell, who won the primary.
Lyras, who ran in 2020 for a congressional seat as a Republican, got 31.3 percent of the vote with Eric Jones of Austintown finishing second with 25.3 percent.
Of the 11 counties, six of them provided vote numbers for Roberts and she won five of those counties. She ended up with 24.9 percent of the vote and lost to Lyras by only 1,754 votes with five counties not disclosing how many people voted for her. It’s highly likely Roberts would have won the primary had she not withdrawn for health reasons.
Another bad sign for Lyras is Democrats in the district received 27,378 total votes. U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, who won the GOP primary for the seat with 77.3 percent against weak opposition from three challengers got more than double the entire Democratic vote.
In Trumbull County, Recorder Tod Latell won the Democratic primary with 56.38 percent of the vote, beating Braceville Fiscal Officer Tom Shay.
Shay had the Trumbull County Democratic Party’s endorsement in the race. But Latell had more campaign contributions in the pre-primary period, the support of the current auditor, Adrian Biviano, and he comes from a well-known political family in the county.
The night of the primary, I told my colleagues that Dawn Cantalamessa would be lucky to get 40 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary for a seat on the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court bench. Someone jokingly asked if I meant 4 percent.
I was closer, but not by much. Cantalamessa ended up with 24.85 percent of the vote as she was soundly defeated by Sean O’Brien, a former state legislator.
Democrats and Republicans had primaries for county commissioner for the job currently held by Democrat Frank Fuda, who will retire after his fourth four-year term.
There are some candidates who I wonder why they run for office. David M. Guarino, who ran in the Democratic primary, is one of them. There were barely signs of him campaigning.
It wasn’t the first time Guarino has sought elected office. He lost a 2020 Democratic commissioner primary too. This one ended with state Rep. Michael J. O’Brien, who’s held numerous elected positions for several years, predictably winning. O’Brien received 80.64 percent of the vote to Guarino’s 19.36 percent.
The general election should be a good one as Denny Malloy won the Republican primary after a respectable showing in 2020 as an independent commissioner candidate.
Malloy got 43.81 percent of the vote last week, beating Hubbard Township Trustee Rick Hernandez with 30.41 percent and Christina D. Lee with 25.78 percent of the vote.
Skolnick covers politics for The Vindicator and the Tribune Chronicle.