CINCINNATI — Steve Goodin spent the past several months on the campaign trail attending community events, running ads on social media and posting yard signs on pretty much any available street corner in Hamilton County.

What You Need To Know

  • Clerk of courts was one of races on the Hamilton County primary ballot on Tuesday

  • Steve Goodin (R) ran a contested primary while incumbent Pavan Parikh (D) ran unopposed

  • Candidates will likely take only a couple days to decompress before hitting the campaign trail again

  • One job of the political parties will be to secure the support of their candidates who lost in the primary 

Goodin, a Republican, was working to secure the nomination as his party’s candidate on the November ballot in the race for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts.

On Tuesday, Goodin did just that — convincingly defeating fellow Republican Raj Rajagopal, 68.6% to 31.%, in the primary election. A contested primary pits one party’s candidates head-to-head on the ballot. 

Other contested races included Ohio governor and U.S. Congressional seats. Elections for positions at the statehouse will take place later this year as a result of ongoing legal challenges related to redistricting.

“Obviously, we’re thrilled with the outcome,” said Goodin, an attorney who served for a time on Cincinnati City Council after being appointed to the position in November 2020.

The victory Tuesday was especially sweet for Goodin, who lost a bid last fall for election to City Council. But he knows Tuesday is just a first step in a still-months-long process.

Goodin will square off against Democrat Pavan Parikh, the incumbent, in the November general election. 

The build-up to the primary was a little different for Parikh, who ran unopposed. 

Parikh, an attorney and former judicial candidate, was the unanimous choice of the Hamilton County Democratic Party Central Committee to succeed Aftab Pureval. Pureval stepped down after being elected mayor of Cincinnati. 

Whoever wins in November 2022 will fill what’s left of Pureval’s term, which ends Jan. 5, 2025. 

Parikh said he’s spent the last few months focused on improving operations of the Clerk’s Office. 

“As I have been meeting with groups and individuals on the campaign trail, I am showing them the fruits of our labor in making the courthouse more accessible and transparent,” he said. 

Few voters turned out Tuesday — only 16.31% of the 588,290 Hamilton County residents eligible to vote. That’s not a huge surprise, though: Primary elections usually draw far fewer voters than general elections, which actually decide who will hold office. 

Primary elections are always a challenge, said Gwen McFarlin, chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. It can be difficult to get people interested and motivated. 

This year’s primary faced even more obstacles, including inclement weather and confusion about the multiple primaries that will occur because of ongoing legal challenges related to state redistricting, she added. McFarlin spent Tuesday zig-zagging across the county to get a feel for voter response.

“I am concerned that we still cannot get enough individuals to participate in the primary elections at the county level,” McFarlin said. “We really want to focus on making sure every resident is able to be heard.”

Goodin actually thinks the “turnout and the energy” were good, all things considered. He noted the primary for the last gubernatorial race was 18%, so this year wasn’t that far off.

“But the thing I noticed was, generically, all of our local Republican candidates outpaced their Democratic rivals,” he said, noting that various candidates in statewide and local races received more votes overall than their Democratic counterparts. 

Goodin received 31,789 of the 46,343 votes cast in the GOP race. Parikh received 30,709 votes. But he ran unopposed and would have appeared on the ballot either way.

“There’s clearly energy on the Republican side,” Goodin said. “There is no question in Hamilton County, a supposedly blue county, there was a lot of energy there.”

Parikh called the vote discrepancy in the primary “expected” and said it isn’t necessarily indicative of any larger trend.

“They are in a battle for the heart and soul of their party, and judging by the results (Tuesday), they’ve got a mixed bag,” Parikh said, referring to Republicans.

McFarlin will spend Wednesday doing a “deep dive” into the primary data — which races received the most attention; where was voter turnout highest and lowest; and what Democrats can do better in November. They plan to start crafting that plan this week.

Alex Triantafilou, chair of the Hamilton County Republican Party, is pleased by what he saw at the polls Tuesday.

"Gov. Mike DeWine is well-positioned for crossover appeal, a trait he thinks Democratic candidate Nan Whaley lacks," Triantafilou said. He added that U.S Senate candidate J.D. Vance has the potential to “unite (the Republican) Party with President Trump’s help."

The clerk of court’s race and the judicial races will be key to the Hamilton County GOP’s messaging, which will center on public safety, Triantafilou said.

“We’re going to raise a lot of money and we’re going to really kind of model and target swing voters,” he said.

Immediately, Goodin and his team plan to take a couple days off of active campaigning. They spent Wednesday morning going throughout the county to take down old yard signs. But over the next few weeks they plan to do a lot of what he called ‘shoe leather’ campaigning, which really means he plans to get out into the community. 

“That’s really what Hamilton County voters respond to — those in-person meetings,” Goodin said.

Parikh plans to do some of that as well. But he wants a centerpiece of his campaign to be the work they’re already doing in the office.

They plan to roll out “new partnerships and initiatives” in the coming months to let the public see why, “it’s best to return me to this seat through our actions, and not just our words,” he said.

“I am going to spend every day between now and November showing the voters why they should trust me to work for them,” he added.

Although Democrats had a few contested statewide races, including Ohio governor and a few Congressional races, there was only one local race that was competitive. The nomination for Hamilton County juvenile court judge featured a showdown between Rickell Howard Smith and Glenda A. Smith.

Howard Smith, the party-endorsed candidate, won.

Both McFarlin and Triantafilou expect party members to rally behind their slate of candidates in the months leading up to the general election and especially on Election Day.

“I don’t think there’s any kind of complicated ideological concerns here that will keep his folks from coming over,” Goodin said. “We are doing very quick and direct outreach to his supporters and hope they’ll be onboard with us in November.”

The Democratic Party actually meets with candidates early in the process to try to get them on board with supporting the party, even if they’re not endorsed or don’t win their race. That strategy has been effective in the past, McFarlin said.

“There may be a couple people who are upset for a week or two,” McFarlin added, “but at the end of the day it’s about being civil and coming together for the good of the party.”