FREMONT — Bill Reineke Jr. won the Republican nomination Tuesday to represent the Ohio 88th House District, which covers Sandusky County and most of Seneca County.
Propelled by a strong Seneca County voter turnout, the Tiffin car dealer garnered 49 percent of the vote in a three-way contest of write-in candidates. Reineke received 2,247 votes to 1,657 votes for Rhonda Damschroder, of Fremont; and 717 votes for Richard Geyer of Fremont, according to the elections boards in Sandusky and Seneca counties.
“I’m thrilled; I’m excited; and, I’m looking forward to working for the best of the district,” Reineke said in a Wednesday interview with the Review Times.
The proclamation of Reineke as the winner was delayed from Tuesday night, as election boards officials were still hand-counting ballots early Wednesday morning after three write-in Republican candidates ran for the seat.
With the primary now over, Reineke said his focus now turns to November, when his campaign will continue to focus on job creation, expanding educational opportunities, and pushing the expansion of transportation options in the district.
“The biggest issue we keep hearing about all over the district is jobs,” he said. “There are a lot of employers looking for people and there are a lot of people looking for jobs; we just need to come together.”
Reineke will face Democrat Bill Young, 62, of Green Springs, in November.
Rhonda Damschroder is the wife of current state Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, and she was attempting to be a “place holder” for her husband, whose nominating petitions were invalidated after he failed to include all necessary signatures. If she had been nominated, the Republican central committees in each county could have voted to restore Rex Damschroder to his House seat, effective Jan. 1.
“Of course it is disappointing but I recognize this was a highly unusual race,” Damschroder said in a Wednesday interview with the Review Times. “I went from running unopposed to being thrown out of the race … I’m not a quitter, so we tried having a placeholder and we did the best we could with the hand we were dealt.”
Damschroder said he will take the next few weeks to think about his options for the future while he focuses on continuing his duties as representative.
“I’m here until January 1, and I look forward to doing the work of the people of Seneca and Sandusky counties.”
Reineke, 59, of Tiffin, is president of Reineke family’s Ford Lincoln dealership, Tiffin. The family owns dealerships in Fostoria, Lima, North Baltimore, Upper Sandusky and Findlay. He also is state director of the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Reineke drew 71 percent of the vote in his home county, Seneca. Seneca County also had a bigger voter turnout, with 2,450 votes cast in the race. In Sandusky County, 2,171 Republicans voted in the race, and Damschroder got 57 percent of them.
Results are unofficial and include absentee ballots.
Vote totals by county were:
Seneca County: Damschroder, 417; Reineke Jr., 1,740; and Geyer, 293.
Sandusky County: Damschroder, 1,240; Reineke Jr., 507; and Geyer, 424.
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