Ilze Koch congratulates Ray Newton following his victory in a three-way primary race for the nomination for sheriff during a gathering of Republicans on Tuesday at John Jay Center for Learning. Newton, who served two terms as sheriff, defeated Tony Lennartz and Patrick Wells for the GOP?nomination. He will face “Watermellon” Jim Phillips, who was uncontested in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, in the general election in November. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
Ilze Koch congratulates Ray Newton following his victory in a three-way primary race for the nomination for sheriff during a gathering of Republicans on Tuesday at John Jay Center for Learning. Newton, who served two terms as sheriff, defeated Tony Lennartz and Patrick Wells for the GOP?nomination. He will face “Watermellon” Jim Phillips, who was uncontested in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, in the general election in November. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
Ray Newton is the GOP’s choice again.

Newton, a former two-term sheriff, earned the Republican nomination for the third time in Tuesday’s primary election, defeating Tony Lennartz and Patrick Wells in a three-way race.

Neither of the other contested races for county office on the GOP ballot were close, with incumbents Chad Aker and Emily Franks rolling to big victories for the nominations for commissioner and auditor, respectively.

Incumbent State Rep. J.D. Prescott of Union City scored a slight win among Jay County over challenger Brittany Kloer of Portland in a rematch of their 2020 race and solidly took the District 33 seat overall. Matt Lehman of Berne dominated locally and throughout District 79 to earn a nomination for his eighth term in the Statehouse.

No county-wide races were contested on the Democratic ballot. Gary L. Snyder easily won the race in Jay County for the right to challenge incumbent Jim Banks for U.S. Rep. in District 3.

When early voting results were tallied shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday, they showed Newton with 47% of the vote to Lennartz’s 29.3% and Wells’ 23.6%. Though he didn’t hold that 47% pace, Newton still posed a solid win with 1,241 votes (40.6%) to 981 for Lennartz and 837 for Wells.

“I’m very happy,” said Newton, who currently serves on Jay County Council, at a gathering of Republicans at John Jay Center for Learning. “This one, I really worked at it. I did a lot of walking, Dunkirk, Redkey, Portland. …

“First of all, I’ve got to thank the voters. … And I’ve got to say thank you to my wife and my family … We really worked hard.

“It feels really good. I’m very humbled that I still have people that believe in me.”

Neither Lennartz, who won five precincts, nor Wells was at the Republican gathering Tuesday.

The victory sends Newton, who served as sheriff from 2007 through 2014, to the general election to take on Democrat “Watermellon” Jim Phillips of Redkey. Phillips was uncontested in Tuesday’s primary.

Newton won a three-way race for sheriff in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010. He lost in a bid to unseat current sheriff Dwane Ford in the 2018 primary.

When Newton takes office, he will have to give up his county council seat. A Republican caucus will be called to fill that spot.

Prescott faced a much stronger challenge from Kloer in the southern two-thirds of Jay County than he did two years ago. After winning 63% of the vote in 2020, that margin narrowed to 1,303 votes (53.6%) compared to 1,128 (46.4%) for Kloer.

The overall race went to Prescott by a margin of 4,712-3,414. He won every county in the district, with an especially strong showing with a 641 vote win in Delaware County. Kloer ran her best in Prescott’s home county, narrowly falling there 1,559-1,495 (51% to 49%).

“I’ve really enjoyed working for the people down at the Statehouse and I just want to continue to uphold the values that I’ve been representing thus far,” said Prescott, who will face Hartford City Democrat John E. Bartlett in November. “I’m just really thankful for the voters for instilling their trust in me once again …”

Lehman, whose District 79 now includes Wabash, Bearcreek, Jackson and Penn townships, outperformed GOP challenger Russ Mounsey of Bluffton in Jay County 350-199. He earned 71.4% of the vote in Adams County and 63.2% in Wells County to earn the nomination. He is currently uncontested for the general election.

Aker and Franks both won every precinct as they cruised to their big wins.

In the race for the GOP nomination for commissioner in the middle district, Aker earned nearly two-thirds of the vote as he posted a 1,908-1,056 victory over challenger Bryan Alexander.

“I feel good,” said Aker. “I’m just happy everybody got out and voted ... I’m happy for the people that did vote for me.”

He moves on to face Democrat Joel Bowers, the chair of the party in Jay County, in the general election.

Franks, who was chosen by a Republican caucus just a couple of months ago to take the auditor role following the resignation of Anna Culy, easily earned her own term in office. She picked up 60.2% of the vote against Kristi Morningstar.

“It’s really great to have your hard work rewarded,” said Franks, who is currently uncontested for auditor for the general election. She said she saw the victory as a confirmation of the caucus selecting her to fill the office.

Chance Retter scored a solid win in a three-way race for two nominations for Redkey Town Council, earning 43% of the Republican vote. His total of 78 votes was good enough to move on to the general election along with Floyd Life (56 votes). Former council member Dave Dudelston was last in the race with 46 votes.

Retter and Life will face incumbent Democrat Dottie Quakenbush in the general election, with the top two earning seats on council.

Snyder racked up 169 out of a possible 275 votes in Jay County for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Representative in District 3 and earned 56% of the vote district-wide to defeat Aaron Calkins (24%) and Phillip Beachy (20%). Incumbent Republican Jim Banks was uncontested Tuesday.

In other contested races:

•Republicans Michelle Jones, Carrie Shaneyfelt and Mike Shreve each earned 12 votes to move forward to the general election for Salamonia Town Council. P. Glenn Zarate was knocked out as he picked up just three votes.

•Democrats Don Whitenack (21 votes), Robert Bailey (17) and Bill Bailey (14) earned spots on the November ballot for Greene Township Board. Alvin Rodney Cassel was just one vote behind Bailey.

•Republicans earning spots as state convention delegates were, in order, Jon Eads, Michael Brewster, Lenny Muhlenkamp, Missy Elliott, Jenae Blasdel and Oakland Gaerke. Falling short in the 13-person race were Matt Goldsworthy, who trailed Gaerke by 119 votes, Jeff Hopkins, Carrie Petro, Amy Schichter, Chad Schlichter, Ilze Koch and James Clayton Phillips.

Republicans who were uncontested Tuesday include Todd Young for U.S. Senator, Travis Holdman for state senator, Melanie Upp for county recorder, Robin Alberson for county assessor, Randy May for county council (District 1), Harold Towell for county council (District 2), Faron Parr for county council (District 3) and Cindy Bracy for county council (District 4).

Democrats who were uncontested Tuesday include Thomas M. McDermott Jr. for U.S. Senator, Wes Schemenaur for Jay County Prosecutor, Ted Champ for county council (District 1) and Kelly Stipp for county council (District 2).