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Friday, November 19, 2010

[BREAKING] Automatic Recount Coming In Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Contest: Dem Connie Pillich Keeps District 28 State House Seat

Dem Tracie Hunter Near Upset
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Provisional ballots have been counted.  They went big for Democrat Tracie Hunter, who now trails Republican John Williams by just 23 votes in the contest for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge.  There is going to be an automatic recount triggered under state election law because the results are razor thin.  Hunter could be on the verge of pulling off a major upset.  There were more than 280,000 votes cast in the contest.   State Rep. Connie Pillich has defeated Mike Wilson by 602 votes in the race for House District 28, which covers a swath of northern Cincinnati suburbs.  Wilson was a founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party and ran as the GOP nominee.  Pillich was up by five votes before the provisionals were tallied today.  The final results are Pillich 21,195, Wilson 20,593.  Pillich won a second term and the margin is beyond the requirement for an automatic recount.

But the big surprise is in the judicial contest.  Hunter ran in the primary and defeated the Democratic party's endorsed candidate.  She was largely an unknown.  In the general election, she was up against Williams, a former assistant prosecutor who went on to serve as director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.  He currently is the No. 2 administrator in the Clerk of Court's office.  Williams was thought to have an edge, in part because he was running in a year when Republicans were riding high; in part because few knew much about Tracie Hunter.  Hunter was down by about 2,800 votes before the provisionals were counted.  Now -- with a 23-vote gap between her and Williams -- there is a strong possibility she could capture a judgeship for the Democrats.

Elections officials said more than 300 provisional ballots were ttossed out over issues involving questions about written signatures versus hand-printed names, voters who got in the wrong lines at polls with more than one voting precinct, and failures to sign on exactly on signature block.  The voters who got in the wrong lines at precincts with multiple polling stations are described as victims of being in the right church but the wrong pew.  Their votes have not been counted.  There is a split in the top ranks of the Hamilton County Dems about those votes -- on the board of elections, Dem Chairman Tim Burke agreed with GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou and GOP board member Chip Gearhardt that they votes were bad under prior court rulings.  Hamilton County Dem Executive Director Caleb Faux wanted the votes counted.  Faux was outvoted 3-1 on the board of elections.    

Those discarded provisional ballots could loom large in the days ahead.  Hunter has retained a lawyer, Jennifer Branch, for the mandatory recount.  Don't be surprised if her campaign pushes to have some of the disqualified provisional ballots put back into the mix.  Williams is certain to make his own legal case that they are junk.

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