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 Oberlin.
“We are prepared for a large turnout in all areas of the county,” Adams told the News-Tribune. “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 3,086 of 7,283 registered Oberlin voters took part in the 2008 primary. That’s 42 percent participation.
Engagement sloped off dramatically in 2012 when just 1,568 of 9,255 registered Oberlin voters (17 percent) cast ballots.
Oberlin has a traditionally overwhelming leftward bent. Adams said this year he expects turnout here to be all about Bernie Sanders.”
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Prior contenders Lawrence Lessig, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb have all withdrawn their candidacies.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 much of Lorain County.
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.
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.
• Issue 10 seeks a renewal of 1.2 mills over five years for Oberlin city operating expenses. It will generate $137,050 per year and cost $35 per year for every $100,000 of property you own.
• Issue 11 will ask voters to approve the renwal of 3 mills over five years for garbage collection and disposal by the city of Oberlin. It will generate $342,625 annually and cost residents $87 per year for every $100,000 worth of property you own.
• Issue 12 seeks renewal of 3.25 mills over five years for current expenses at the Oberlin Public Library. It generates roughly $604,928 per year.
• Issue 22 will allow Firelands Schools voters to decide on a $29.5 million bond issue to build a new school for grades six to 12. It would replace South Amherst Middle School and Firelands High. It would raise taxes by approximately $17 per month for every $100,000 worth of property you own.
• Issue 25 will ask voters to renew a 5.05-mill emergency levy to support day-to-day operations and instructional costs at the Oberlin Schools. It is expected to cost $175 per year for every $100,000 worth of property you own and will generate $940,000.
• Issue 26 seeks renewal of 2 mills for the Oberlin Schools’ permanent improvement fund, which finances purchase or installation of any physical item (buses, books, lights, and so on) that would last five or more years. It would generate $371,064 annually and cost $70 per year for every $100,000 of property you own.