Below is information concerning the won/loss record of the Medina County Democratic Party in elections since 1970. Although Medina County is viewed as a Republican strong-hold, it is possible for local Democratic candidates to win elections and successfully defend those offices in re-election campaigns. Indeed, since 1970 only two Democrats have been defeated in re-election bids and one of those, Ferris Brown, had been re-elected twice as county auditor before becoming county commissioner. So while Medina County is seen as a pro-Republican county, it might be more accurate to describe it as a pro-incumbent county.
As the information below shows, the 1980s were the most successful decade for the Medina County Democratic Party since 1970. From 1980 to 1990, the Medina County Democratic Party picked up four county offices and elected three judges.
In the 1990s, however, the Democratic Party lost re-election campaigns involving both seats on the Board of County Commissioners and also lost the Sheriff's office. During the 1990s, the Medina County Democratic Party only picked up one office held by a Republican, a Common Pleas Judgeship won by Judge Kimbler following Judge Baird's retirement. That win, however, was offset by the loss of the Common Pleas Court held by Judge Cross when she retired in 1998.
In 2000, Judge Mary Kovack picked up the Medina County Domestic Relations Judgeship, defeating an appointed Republican incumbent. Since 2000, no Democrat has lost re-election to a county office or as judge, but the Medina County Democratic Party has not defeated an elected Republican incumbent since 1992.
Democrats who defeated elected Republican incumbents have had a harder time holding the office they won than Democrats who defeated appointed Republican incumbents. Former Sheriff Neil Gray defeated an elected incumbent Republican in 1976, but resigned from office in 1979. Former Greg Happ defeated an elected incumbent Republican in 1980, but was then defeated in 1984. Ferris Brown, who had defeated an elected Republican incumbent for Commissioner, after winning two re-election campaigns for Auditor, was then defeated in 1996, although by a very narrow margin. The only Medina County Democrat who has defeated an elected Republican incumbent and then won re-election is County Prosecutor Dean Holman, who has been re-elected four times, twice without opposition.
Democrats who defeated appointed Republican incumbents, however, have been much more successful at retaining office. Such Democrats are John Happ, who defeated an appointed Republican incumbent and then won re-election twice; Ferris Brown, who defeated an appointed Republican incumbent and then won re-election as County Auditor twice; and Judge Kovack, who defeated an appointed Republican incumbent and then won re-election in 2006.
From all of this, the following conclusions can be drawn:
1. Democrats who are elected to either a county-wide office or as judge in Medina County can, and usually do, win re-election.
2. Democrats who defeat appointed Republican incumbents have an easier time winning re-election than Democrats who defeat elected Republican incumbents.
3. The hardest offices to retain for Democrats have been County Commissioner and, prior to Dean Holman's election in 1980, County Prosecutor.
4. The easiest office to retain have been judicial offices. Since 1987, no incumbent Democratic judge has been defeated for re-election and one such judge, Judge James Kimbler, has changed courts, going from the Wadsworth Municipal Court to the Medina County Common Pleas Court in 1996.
Democratic Victories for County Offices 1970-1980
County Commissioner-John Oberholtzer in 1970 and re-elected in 1974
County Sheriff-Neil Gray in 1976, but resigned in 1979.
Democratic Controlled County Offices & Courts in 1980
Sheriff-John Ribar who was appointed in 1979 when Neil Gray resigned.
Democratic Victories in County and Judicial Offices 1980-1994
Sheriff-John Ribar in 1980, 1984, 1998, and 1992.
Commissioner-John Happ in 1980, 1984, and 1988.
Commissioner-Ferris Brown in 1992.
Prosecutor-Greg Happ in 1980.
Prosecutor-Dean Holman in 1988 and 1992.
Auditor-Ferris Brown in 1982, 1986, and 1990.
Auditor-Mike Kovack in 1994 and 1998.
Medina County Common Pleas Judge-Judith Cross in 1986 and 1992.
Wadsworth Municipal Court Judge-James Kimbler in 1987 and 1993.
Medina Municipal Court Judge-Dale Chase in 1987 and 1993.
Democratic Controlled Offices Lost 1980-1993
Prosecutor in 1984.
County Commissioner in 1992.
Democratic Controlled Offices Successfully Defended 1980-1993
Medina County Commissioner in 1984 and 1988.
Medina County Sheriff in 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992.
Medina County Auditor in 1986 and 1990.
Medina County Prosecutor in 1988.
Medina County Common Pleas Judge in 1992.
Wadsworth Municipal Court Judge in 1987 and 1993.
Medina Municipal Court Judge in 1993.
Democratic Controlled County Offices & Courts in 1993
Commissioner Ferris Brown
Prosecutor Dean Holman
General Division Judge Judith Cross
Auditor Mike Kovack
Sheriff John Ribar
Coroner Neil Grabenstetter
Wadsworth Judge James Kimbler
Medina Judge Dale Chase
Democratic Controlled Offices & Courts in 2007
General Division Judge
Domestic Relations Judge
Democratic Controlled Offices & Judicial Offices Won 1992-2007
DR Court Judge-2000
Common Pleas Court, General Division-1996
Democratic Controlled Offices & Judicial Offices Lost 1992-2007
Wadsworth Judge 1997
Democratic Controlled Offices & Judicial Offices Successfully Defended 1992-2007
Common Pleas General Division Judge
Domestic Relations Judge
Democratic Elected Officials Who Won Re-Election 1974 to 2008
Medina County Commissioner John Oberholtzer in 1974
Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman-re-elected in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004
Medina County Sheriff John Ribar in 1984, 1988, and 1992.
Medina County Coroner Neil Grabenstetter in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. (Dr. Grabenstetter in running unopposed in 2008.)
Medina County Commissioner John Happ in 1984 and 1988.
Medina County Auditor Ferris Brown in 1986 and 1990.
Medina County Auditor Mike Kovack in 1998, 2002, and 2006.
Medina County Common Pleas Judge Judy Cross in 1992.
Medina County Common Pleas Judge James Kimbler in 2002 and 2008. (Judge Kimbler is unopposed in the 2008 election.)
Medina County Domestic Relations Judge Mary Kovack in 2006.
Wadsworth Municipal Court Judge James Kimbler in 1993.
Medina Municipal Court Judge Dale Chase in 1993, 1999, and 2005.
Number of times that Democratic officials have been re-elected to county offices and courts: 28.
Democratic County Officials Who Defeated Republican Incumbents in Elections for County Offices & Judicial Offices from 1976 to 2007
Neil Gray-elected Sheriff in 1976.
John Happ-elected Commissioner in 1980.
Greg Happ-elected Prosecutor in 1980.
Ferris Brown-elected Auditor in 1982.
Dean Holman-elected Prosecutor in 1988.
Ferris Brown-elected Commissioner in 1992.
Mary Kovack-elected Domestic Relations Judge in 2000.