Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Sunday, March 26

Sup. Ct: O'Neill (D) Leads Wagner (D), Espy (D) Tied With Sikora (D) in Poll

The Columbus Dispatch has released a batch of polls, including the first on the Supreme Court Democratic primaries I have seen anywhere.

As shown in Dispatch graphic at right, 11th District Court of Appeals Judge William O'Neill (D-Chagrin Falls) leads Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge A. J. Wagner (D-Dayton) by thirteen percentage points, although with a whopping 65% undecided. The winner in that primary will face incumbent Supreme Court Justice Terrence O'Donnell (R-Rocky River). O'Neill, who famously accepts no campaign contributions for the sake of judicial independence, is the beneficiary of higher name recognition resulting from his previous Supreme Court campaign. His law degree is from Cleveland State University and his prior employment includes Assistant Attorney General, union organizer for the Communications Workers of America, Army lieutenant colonel, and newspaper reporter. Wagner is a law graduate of the University of Dayton and has previously served as a referee on the Montgomery County Probate Court, acting judge on the Dayton Municipal Court, Montgomery County Auditor, and has worked as a janitor, steelworker and teacher.

In the primary for the seat now held by retiring incumbent Justice Alice Robie Resnick (D-Toledo), private attorney Ben Espy (D-Columbus) is tied with Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Peter M. Sikora (D-Cleveland), but again the undecided vote is extraordinarily large at 66%. The winner will face 3rd District Court of Appeals Judge Robert Cupp (R-Lima). Like Cupp, Espy is a former Ohio Senator, having served ten years altogether and four as Senate Minority Leader. His law degree is from Howard University and his other past service includes Columbus City Council member and Chief of the Criminal Activities Division in the Office of the Attorney General. Sikora is a law graduate of Case Western Reserve University and prior to his 17 years on the bench was a Court of Appeals Clerk, Deputy Counsel to Governor Richard Celeste, and Deputy Director of the Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. As many have noted, Espy and candidate for Auditor Rep. Barbara Sykes are the only African-American candidates on the Democratic statewide ticket. Importantly, Sikora reflects another kind of diversity, since he is a quadraplegic and so far as Sikora has been able to determine he would become the only physically disabled Supreme Court Justice in the nation.

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