Photo Caption: Lenny Eliason
Eliason, the Democratic incumbent, had 64 percent of the votes to Gaiser's 36 percent (10,291 to 5,735) in unofficial returns. The election had a relatively low turnout of 33 percent.
All three county tax levies were winning easily: Issue 1 (Athens County Children Services) 69 percent yes votes; Issue 2 (Beacon-ATCO) 69 percent yes votes; and Issue 3 (Emergency Medical Services) 72 percent.
The Athens street improvement levy won easily with 65 percent of the votes.
In the 92nd House District, incumbent state Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-Athens, defeated GOP challenger Mike Hunter of Athens. In Athens County, Phillips overwhelmed Hunter, 10,354 to 5,460. However, she had lost in the other three counties (2,081 to Hunter's 2,433 in Morgan County, 2,575 to 3,959 in Washington County, and 3,042 to 3,726 in Meigs County. Fortunately for Phillips, the landslide in her home county was enough to make up for losing elsewhere.
The unofficial count was 18,052 for Phillips, 15,578 for Hunter, and 954 for Green Party candidate Ty Collinswort (who virtually disappeared from sight after filing for election last winter).
Phillips' victory is a rare Democratic victory in a statewide Republican slaughter, including possibly every statewide seat, including the governor's office, and both congressional seats affecting Athens County. The Ohio News Network around 10:15 p.m. projected Republican Bob Gibbs as the victor over incumbent U.S. Rep. Zack Space, D-Dover (54-40 percent). The 18th District includes parts of northern Athens County.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-St. Clairsville, also appeared to be going down in defeat to Republican challenger, Bill Johnson, in the 6th District (which includes the city of Athens and most of Athens County). The only counties where Wilson was winning were Athens and Monroe.
A short two months ago, nobody was giving the Republicans a chance to pick up these congressional seats.