Bell wins commissioner race, fellow Republicans hold, sweep offices across state


Melissa Bell embraces her daughter, Delaney, seconds after being told by her husband that she won her race for Muskingum County Commissioner late Tuesday night.

By Staff Report

Melissa Bell, a Republican, has won her race for Muskingum County Commissioner, beating her opponent, John Furek, a Democrat, by nearly 45 percentage points.

Across the state, Republicans maintained their single-party control of all state-wide offices, absent the Supreme Court and one U.S. Senate seat, and picked up multiple state house and senate seats.

Democrats gained one seat and Republicans lost two seats in Ohio’s congressional delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. Ohio went from 16 seats in Congress to 15 following population shifts nationwide following the 2020 Census.

Meanwhile, the most highly watched race in the state, J.D. Vance (R) verse Congressman Tim Ryan (D), for the open U.S. Senate race also had a sizable spread, leading many to wonder if Ohio’s other senator, Sherrod Brown, may be in for a much tougher race than expected in two years as the state moves from its historical position as a swing state to a solidly Republican state.

In downtown Zanesville Tuesday night, Bell, along with her family, friends and fellow Republicans watched as election results poured in from around the state and nation. Locally, it took until nearly 11 p.m. for all precincts to be counted.

Early voting and absentee ballots had Bell up substantially when those results became available at around 8 p.m., but Bell held off accepting her win until later in the evening when all precincts were reporting.

Bell got to learn from her husband that she would become the next commissioner of Muskingum County, filling the seat that will be vacated by Commissioner Jim Porter, who chose to retire from his post and not seek a fourth term.

Bell is a farmer, non-profit executive and community leader. She follows in the footsteps of her father who was a township trustee. For a complete candidate profile, be sure to check out our article on her.

According to the final unofficial election results from the Muskingum County Board of Elections, Bell had 19,541 votes (72.34%) to Furke’s 7,473 votes (27.66%).

When Bell is officially sworn in this upcoming January, she will become part of history, with Muskingum County having for the first time ever three female county commissioners, all of which are Republicans.

“I am very excited about the upcoming opportunity to serve our county as a commissioner,” Bell told Y-City News. “Our current commissioners have done an outstanding job of leading our county, and I look forward to joining the team to continue to move the county forward. These are exciting times in Muskingum County, and I am pleased to be able to help lead.”

Bell watches election results roll in, moments before she learned from her husband that she would be the next commissioner of Muskingum County.

Statewide Races

Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor John Husted, Attorney General Dave Yost, Auditor of State Keith Faber, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Treasurer of State Robert Sprague, all Republican incumbents, won their re-election races each with roughly a 20 percent spread. Typically, an incumbent has the competitive advantage, but such a significant margin above historical norms showcases the way in which Ohio is no longer a swing state, many experts say.

Republican Ohio Supreme Court Justices Pat Fischer and Pat DeWine, both incumbents, won re-election as well Tuesday night. Each secured double-digit leads against their Democratic opponents.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was handed to Justice Sharon Kennedy (R) over Justice Jennifer Brunner (D). The position became open due to current Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor (R) not being able to seek re-election due to her age. Kennedy also had a double-digit lead in the race. Brunner will remain as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Ohio.

J.D. Vance (R) secured roughly a quarter-of-a-million more votes than his opponent Congressman Tim Ryan (D), becoming the state’s next U.S. Senator. Vance will replace Senator Rob Portman (R) who chose to not seek re-election. Vance had a nearly seven percent lead. In comparison, in 2018, incumbent Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown secured nearly a seven percent lead over his Republican opponent, Jim Renacci.

Congressional Races

All of Ohio’s 15 remaining U.S. House seats were up for re-election Tuesday night as well. Ohio lost one seat due to national population shifts – there has been a cap of 435 members of congress nationally since 1929 when the Permanent Apportionment Act became law. Ohio lost two House seats following the 2010 Census and one seat recently following the 2020 Census, which forced district lines to be redrawn.

Of the current 16 House seats in Ohio, Republicans control twelve and Democrats four. Following Tuesday night’s election, of the remaining 15 seats in the House, 10 will be held by Republicans and five will be held by Democrats, giving the Democrats one additional seat and taking two away from Republicans.

Locally, Congressman Troy Balderson (R), who didn’t face a serious opponent, received just shy of 70 percent of the vote.

Cincinnati Republican, incumbent thirteen-term U.S. Representative Steve Chabot, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Greg Landsman, a member of the Cincinnati City Council, considered by most one of the more surprising race results from around the country.

There were two races in which an incumbent was not seeking re-election: U.S. House District 13 and U.S. House District 7.

Emilia Sykes (D) defeated Republican Madison Gilbert (R) in the 13th District race. Max Miller (R) defeated Matthew Diemer (D) in the 7th House District. Sykes (D) had a five percent lead and Miller (R) had a 10 percent lead.

Ohio House and Senate Races

All of Ohio’s House of Representative seats (elected every two years) and 17 of Ohio’s Senate seats (elected every four years) were up for grabs Tuesday. In the Senate, Republicans gained one additional seat and in the House, Republicans gained four additional seats, giving the party a supermajority in both chambers.

During the current term, under districts drawn following the 2010 Census, Republicans held twenty-five seats in the Ohio Senate and Democrats held eight. While district boundaries were altered to adjust to population shifts statewide accounted for by the most recent Census in 2020, mostly as citizens move to more urban and suburban areas and away from rural areas, the state is no longer considered a swing state, by many, but one in which Republicans easily take statewide races and a majority of local representative districts.

Senate Minority Whip Tina Maharath (D-District 3) was the sole Democrat to lose a seat in the Senate, giving the Republicans twenty-six seats in the upcoming session and Democrats seven.

Locally, Al Landis (R) ran unopposed in both his Republican primary and the general election this fall. Landis is currently a Tuscarawas County Commissioner but previously served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 2011 through 2018.

Currently, in the Ohio House of Representatives, Republicans hold 64 seats and Democrats hold 35 seats. Like with the Senate districts, following the 2020 Census, districts were redrawn to accurately reflect the movement of citizens around the state. Tuesday, Republicans picked up four additional seats.

In Ohio’s 31st House District, for example, which was previously held by Democrat Brigid Kelly, who chose not to seek re-election as she ran for Auditor of Hamilton County following the retirement of eight-term Auditor Dusty Rhodes, her seat was flipped to Republican. In one of the closest Ohio House races, Republican Bill Roemer narrowly beat Democrat Rita Darrow.

Another win for Republicans, for example, was in the 5th District where Republican Ronald Beach IV unseated Democrat Assistant Minority Whip Richard Brown by less than 100 votes, according to unofficial election results.

Locally, Adam Holmes (R) also ran unopposed in both his Republican primary and the general election this fall. Holmes is a retired military pilot and CEO of Frueh Enterprises in Zanesville. He was appointed to the Ohio House in 2019 and won re-election against Democrat Alaina Swope in 2020.