December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain County Democrats’ partisan support helped lift Obama, incumbents

SHEFFIELD TWP. — Lorain County remained a Democratic bulwark during Tuesday’s election, strengthening President Barack Obama’s victory in the crucial swing state of Ohio, according to unofficial election returns.

Obama beat out Republican challenger Mitt Romney by taking 50.2 percent of the vote statewide to carry Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. Romney won 48.2 percent of the Ohio vote, unofficial returns showed.

In Lorain County, Obama’s margin of victory was wider. He took 56.3 percent of the vote, compared with the 41.9 percent that went to Romney.

Lorain County Republican Party Chairwoman Helen Hurst said she was surprised that Obama’s margin was so decisive in the county, particularly given the growth of Republican strongholds of Avon and Avon Lake on the county’s east side.

“I did not necessarily think Romney would win Lorain County, but I thought it would be very close,” Hurst said.

Anthony Giardini, chairman of the Lorain County Democratic Party, said the results were similar to what the county has seen in previous elections. Four years ago, Obama carried just shy of 58 percent of the vote compared with Republican John McCain’s 40.1 percent, a slightly wider victory for the Democrat than he posted in the county this year.

“The county ran very much true to form,” Giardini said.

According to the unofficial and somewhat incomplete numbers, the results of where Obama won in the county in 2008 and 2012 were very similar. County Board of Elections Director Paul Adams said there are still 6,019 provisional ballots and 2,857 outstanding absentee ballots that could be added to the total elections results, but typically those numbers don’t change the outcomes substantially.

Those as-yet-uncounted ballots also will boost the county’s voter turnout, which currently sits at 65.8 percent, Adams said.

Obama carried every city in the county with the exceptions of Avon and Avon Lake. He also carried the villages of South Amherst, Grafton, Sheffield and Wellington as well as Amherst, Eaton, Elyria, New Russia, Penfield and Sheffield townships.

The rest of the county’s villages and township went for Romney. The only changes from 2008 were Rochester Township and Rochester switching to the Republican column and Penfield Township swinging from the GOP to the Democrats.

Hurst said the results were indicative of what was seen across the state and the nation, with Democrats racking up large margins of victory in the large urban areas and Republicans carrying less-populated rural areas and many suburbs.

“We’ve seen that nationwide that the large urban areas have a large degree of control,” Hurst said.

She said the same held true in the Lorain County commissioner races, where incumbent Democrats Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski both held off their respective Republican challengers by wide margins.

Of the two, Kokoski had slightly better numbers, taking 59 percent of the vote over her opponent, Columbia Township Trustee Mike Musto, who received 41 percent of the vote.

Kalo earned 56.1 percent of the vote compared with his opponent, Amherst City Councilman Phil Van Treuren, who garnered 43.9 percent of the vote.

Unofficial results show that Kalo carried Elyria, Lorain, Oberlin, Sheffield Lake, Vermilion, Elyria Township, Grafton, New
Russia Township, Sheffield and Sheffield Township, with the remainder of the county’s communities going to Van Treuren.

But Kalo roared out of Lorain and Elyria with nearly 29,000 votes compared with the slightly more than 13,000 votes that Van Treuren picked up in those traditionally Democratic communities.

“It just goes to show you it’s very hard for a Republican to overcome that concentration of reflexively Democratic votes in Lorain and Elyria,” Van Treuren said.

Kalo said he believes he lost some areas, including Amherst, Amherst Township and South Amherst, simply because his opponent is well known in those communities because of where he lives and holds office.

Kokoski carried more communities than Kalo, including Amherst and North Ridgeville, two communities that tend to swing back and forth between Democratic and Republican commissioner candidates. In addition to those two cities and the communities Kalo won, Kokoski also scored victories in Amherst Township, South Amherst, Brownhelm Township, Eaton Township, Henrietta Township, LaGrange Township, Penfield Township and Wellington.

And while Van Treuren beat out Kalo in the popular vote in the townships and villages, Kokoski bested Musto in the popular vote in those communities.

Kokoski and Musto both said they haven’t given much thought to where they won and lost.

“I lost by 20,000 votes or so, and that’s about all I’ve taken away from it,” Musto said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.