Presidential election fever is driving huge numbers to the polls already in Lorain County in advance of next Tuesday’s primaries.
Countywide, it looks certain early voting totals will surpass those seen in 2012, said Paul Adams, director of the local board of elections.
That was when Mitt Romney topped the list of candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination (others included Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and John Huntsman).
That time around, President Barack Obama was unopposed in his reelection bid on the Democratic side.
Now that he’s at the end of his two constitutionally-allowed terms, there is a full field of 14 — three Democrats and 11 Republicans — who will appear on the ballot here in Wellington.
“We are prepared for a large turnout in all areas of the county,” Adams told the Enterprise. “But my expectations are that in the more Republican places of the county we’re going to see an even higher turnout.”
Historically, Lorain County skews politically to the left. In presidential elections, the split has been as high as a two-to-one ratio in favor of Democrats.
Those requesting absentee ballots this season, however, have been equally split along party lines, Adams said. And that signals a huge shift in voting trends.
It’s unlikely (but not impossible) that we’ll see a bigger rush to the primary polls than was seen in 2008, when Obama sought his first term.
A look at old canvassing numbers shows 1,176 of 2,937 registered Wellington voters took part in the 2008 primary. That’s 40 percent participation.
Engagement sloped off dramatically in 2012 when just 779 of 3,103 registered Wellington voters (25 percent) cast ballots.
So what races and issues will drive voting patterns this coming week? Read on:
Democrats have a short list from which to choose: Hillary Clinton, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, and Bernie Sanders will all be on the ballot.
Prior contenders Lawrence Lessig, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb have all withdrawn their candidacies.
Republicans have a much larger field.
Forerunners Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz are on the list, as is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is looking for a big win in his home state.
But the Ohio primary ballot will also be loaded down with politicians who suspended their primary campaigns and are no longer seeking the party nomination: Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and Mike Huckabee.
You can still support those who have backed out of the race and are still on the ballot. Those votes will be handed over to a candidate endorsed by the one who has suspended their campaign.
U.S. SENATE RACE
Sen. Rob Portman’s six-year term is up and he faces opposition on both sides of the aisle.
Don Elijah Eckhart is challenging the incumbent senator in the Republican primary and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is leading a field of Democrat contenders that includes Kelli Prather and P.G. Sittenfeld.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Republican Jim Jordan will learn who he will face in the November election for 4th Congressional District, which encompasses much of Pittsfield and Camden townships as well as Kipton and Wakeman.
Unopposed within his own party, three Democrats are seeking primary approval to make a run at his seat: Norbert Denneril Jr. of Elyria, Daniel Johnson of Plain City, and Janet Garrett of Oberlin.
Voters in Wellington, Huntington, Rochester, Penfield, and Spencer live in the 7th Congressional District, where incumbent Bob Gibbs of Lakeville will defend his seat against challenger Terry Robertson of Medina in the Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Roy Rich of Grafton in November.
COUNTY COURT JOBS
Three hotly contested judge seats are up for grabs.
Michele Silva Arredondo and Will Spiegelberg have a Republican run-off in the primary for a Lorain County Court of Common Pleas judgeship.
On the Democratic side, incumbent Christopher Rothgery and former judge James Burge are vying for an open spot at the Lorain County Justice Center. That race has generated a lot of heat, with allegations flying about Burge’s past conviction on six counts of tampering with evidence and falsification of records. Burge resigned but his law license was reinstated when felony counts were reduced to misdemeanors on a technicality.
A domestic division seat has Democrats Ben Davey, Sherry Glass, and David Graves, and Republicans Jenifer Berki and Krista Marinaro all seeking votes.
In another high-stakes legal system fight, J.D. Tomlinson is seeking to wrest the county prosecutor job away from Dennis Will in the Democratic primary.