MOUNT VERNON — As Tuesday night’s election results wore on, the hopes of area Democrats gathered inside Flappers Bar and Grille that were once somewhat optimistic about their candidates in local, state and congressional races ended up, as the expression says, “fading into black.”
Included was a lopsided loss by Democratic Congressional candidate Ken Harbaugh of the 7th District, a former Navy pilot and erstwhile president of a worldwide disaster relief organization, Team Rubicon Global. He had pledged to protect medical coverage for pre-existing conditions and to meet the opioid crisis head on. But with nearly all precincts counted from 10 counties — included all of Knox County — unofficial final results showed that Republican winner Bob Gibbs had defeated Harbaugh by a nearly 18 percent overall margin.
The margin was even more lopsided in Knox County, where Gibbs received 66 percent of the votes, a total of 14,464, to 34 percent for Harbaugh, who totaled 7,448.
Harbaugh issued an emailed statement from Canton, where his team had gathered on election night.
“The race did not go our way this time. But no matter what the final tally says, I saw victory here in the OH7 every single day,” Harbaugh stated. “I saw unprecedented activism and engagement. I saw Ohioans on both sides of the aisle come together to put country over party. I saw Ohioans who had never been politically active before come out to join us on the trail. Every day was a kind of triumph.”
At Flappers, hopes that the Democrats voting in Knox County might have at least one race go their way boiled down to a tight Ohio Senate District 19 race between Democrat Louise Valentine, a businesswoman and mother of twin boys, versus Republican Andrew Brenner. They were locked in an extremely tight contest that had Valentine ahead a good part of the night but Brenner overtook her in the later hours.
The case was much different in Knox County. With all Knox precincts counted, Brenner received 67.49 percent of the vote, for a total of 14,804, to 30.48 percent for Valentine, who totaled 6,686. Green Party candidate Gary Cox received 2.02 percent. Valentine ran on issues including fair and effective funding for Ohio public schools, attracting good-paying jobs for communities and ensuring affordable health care options for families.
“When we started this campaign we set out to advance a vision for an Ohio where every family can thrive,” Valentine told the News in an email early this moring. “While we fell just short of victory, I could not be more proud of the campaign we ran. … We must continue to stand up and fight for our public schools, affordable healthcare, and quality jobs every single day.”
Mary Rugola-Dye, the vice chair of the Knox County Democratic Party, said it was Valentine’s “honesty, genuineness and intelligence” that appealed to voters.
It appeared that Valentine lost an overall close race to Brenner, by a final overall district margin of 50.65 percent to 47.5 percent, with Cox receiving 1.86 percent.
Kathleen Tate, a Democratic candidate for the Ohio House 68th district seat, said she was hoping in a three-way race to receive 32 to 33 percent of the vote. A 73-year-old retiree from the field of electronics and software technical support, the Apple Valley resident was the lone Democratic candidate in key races affecting Knox County to watch election results locally at Flappers.
In Knox County, Tate received 29.43 percent of the vote to 68.01 percent for Rick Carfagna, the Republican winner, and 2.56 percent for Libertarian candidate Patrick Glasgow. She fared slightly better overall, achieving the 33 percent total that was her goal.
“This district is two-thirds Republican. If I get one-third of the vote I will be extremely happy,” she said as election night results proceeded.
Tate, who described herself as an “advocate for people,” said the key issues for her were women’s health, as well as pre-existing condition coverage on medical insurance, addressing the opioid crisis, and her position against charter schools.
Donald Bovinett Jr., a Democratic candidate for a Knox County commissioner’s seat, lost decisively to Republican Bill Pursel by a margin of 72.4 percent to 27.6 percent. Bovinett, a consultant in software and web development who ran for a Mount Vernon City Council seat in 2017, issued an emailed statement Tuesday night. He ran on a campaign emphasizing civil service as a cornerstone of building communities.
“I congratulate my opponent on his victory. I can’t wait to see what he does to help improve the quality of life for those struggling within the county,” Bovinett said. “I wish him well and hope that he is successful in advocating for the needs of the constituents he will serve.”
All results are unofficial until certified.