If Tuesday’s primary election had been the General Election and the numbers came in the same, the new state representative in Columbus for the 90th District would be Adams County Commissioner Brian Baldridge.
But Tuesday’s numbers may point to a close race in the Nov. 6 General Election.
The 90th District includes all of Scioto and Adams counties, along with a slice of Lawrence County. Republican Baldridge received a few hundred votes more than Scioto County attorney and Democrat Adrienne Buckler, 3,452 to 3,101. (Some initially faulty addition by The Daily Times resulted in Baldridge being asked about Buckler attracting more votes than he did. But in any case, Baldridge, who ran on a conservative platform and emphasized he was the only candidate in a field of six — four Republicans and two Democrats — to previously have held public office, was not worried about those numbers.)
“It was very unique having a four-way race,” Baldridge said of the Republican primary. Although he did not say so directly, Baldridge clearly and undoubtedly would argue the Republican vote obviously was split among the various candidates from his party.
“We each sort of had our own little home bases,” Baldridge continued. “November is really about looking at the area as a whole.”
In Tuesday’s Republican primary, Baldridge finished with 39.7 percent of the total Republican ballots cast. Candidate Gina Collinsworth was second with 2,737 votes, or 31.4 percent. Newcomer Justin Pizzulli finished third with 1,664 ballots, 19.4 percent. And yet another first-time candidate Scottie Powell, finished last in the field of four, earning 839 votes, or a bit less than 10 percent.
On the Democratic side, Buckler easily outdistanced candidate Joni Fearing, winning 77.5 percent of the vote compared to Fearing’s ballot count of 903, or 22.5 percent.
As already noted, Baldridge said each Republican candidate had his or her own home base. For Baldridge, that home base won him the day. In the district’s most populous county, Scioto County, Collinsworth actually bested Baldridge 1,947 ballots to 1,462. However, in his home base of Adams County, Baldridge slammed Collinsworth 1,609 to 441, or 60.4 percent to 16 percent. In Lawrence County, Baldridge eked out a 381 to 344 victory, or 36.8 to 33.1 percent.
On the Democratic side, Buckler was the clear winner in all three counties. The only close race was again in Lawrence County, where Buckler took 278 votes compared to Fearing’s 218.
Going forward in the General Election, both candidates said their basic messages will remain the same. Baldridge said he will emphasize his experience, which he believes won him Tuesday’s primary.
“I have the experience in local government, from the township level to the county level,” Baldridge said. Baldridge argues the economy is the number one issue throughout the district, saying local government needs to create an environment friendly to business.
“We need to get government out of the way of business,” adding that too much government is just too bad for business.
As she did during the primary, Buckler talked about being a new, fresh voice in Columbus.
“I am running for our future. We need someone in Columbus that will promote our community and fight for our community. We need someone with a strong voice. I have that strong voice. I use my voice and advocate for my clients on a daily basis, and I want to be your advocate — your voice — in Columbus,” she said during the primary campaign.
In the course of the primary, competing TV ads argued over who was more conservative, Baldridge or Collinsworth. Baldridge declined to comment on that question, but did state he undoubtedly is more conservative than Buckler.
“He may be the conservative candidate, but I’m the best candidate for all people,” Buckler said.
Baldridge said he had not yet added up what he spent on the primary campaign. Buckler said she spent between $7,000 and $8,000, adding she knows she needs to do some fundraising for the General Election. Buckler also talked briefly about how Baldridge received money from interests in Columbus, while her campaign was funded 100 percent locally.
There is no incumbent in the 90th District race. The ultimate winner will replace incumbent Terry Johnson, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits.
Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931