Hamilton’s Retherford wins re-election

Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, earned a third term Tuesday as the state lawmaker for the 51st Ohio House District.

Retherford beat his opponent, Fairfield resident Johnny Hamilton, by nearly 30 percentage points, according to unofficial election results by the Butler County Board of Elections. Tuesday’s victory was Retherford’s largest margin of victory in his three elections.

The 51st Ohio House District includes the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield, Ross Twp., and portions of Fairfield, Hanover, and St. Clair townships.

After thanking voters for their support, Retherford said this year’s victory was about not putting the party first but rather “about putting the people first.”

Retherford had gone against a long-held tradition of not running against party-endorsed candidate. In the March primary election, after not gaining the Butler County GOP’s endorsement he ran against and beat former state lawmaker Courtney Combs.

What will happen in Retherford’s third term depends on what happens in the upcoming lame duck session of the General Assembly, but he said addressing jobs and the state’s drug problem will likely be on the agenda.

Retherford, 32, said he’ll work on continuing to promote workforce development and “things we’ve been working on with the expansion of Butler Tech, Cincinnati State, Miami University and schools that are pushing for better job training.”

And jobs and addressing the the state’s drug problem go hand-in-hand.

“Right now, the number one issue I’m hearing from employers is not that they don’t have the jobs available … but they can’t get people to pass a drug test,” said Retherford.

Working on addressing the state’s drug problem, most notably the heroin epidemic, is also a priority for the state legislature.

This is the second straight November loss for the 65-year-old Hamilton. The former tool and die maker lost a bid last November when he ran for Fairfield City Council.

“The people have spoken, it’s what they believe,” he said. “My main message this whole time was to try to communicate the Democratic values and make sure the people have a better understanding of them.”

Hamilton was asked if he will make another run at another political office, and he said, “It’s early. Right now we’re thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think everybody needs a break after this election.”