The Republican Party State Executive Committee on Friday night rejected a challenge by Sabrena Smedley of the results of the county mayor race.
The panel certified Weston Wamp as the winner as the Hamilton County Election Commission had done. The vote was 34 to uphold the Wamp election, 10 opposed and one abstention. Ken Meyer was among those voting to uphold the challenge, while Bobby Wood was among those opposed. Tina Benkiser initially passed, saying she was still making up her mind, then she later voted no.
Ms. Smedley had cited "illegal Democratic crossover voting" in her appeal. She accused Democrats of "party raiding in our election."
The panel is to rule later on a similar appeal filed by school board candidate Cindy Fain in District 6.
Mr. Wamp said afterward, “The Republican State Executive Committee protected the rule of law this evening by overwhelmingly rejecting the baseless appeal of Sabrena Smedley and Matt Hullander. For that I am grateful, but let’s not make the mistake of whitewashing what just happened. This was not an inquiry to see if future primaries should be open or closed. This was a brazen attempt by my former opponents, Smedley and Hullander, to overturn a certified election in our county, something that has never happened before and should not happen again.
“In 2014, I narrowly lost a Republican Primary for Congress, but I held my head up, conceded and accepted the result. On May 3, I won a close election but despite a pledge in February to accept the result and support the winner, my two former opponents sought to overturn the election based on innuendo and conspiracy theories. I still do not understand why Smedley and Hullander attempted this, but they will always be remembered for it.
“Free society and self-government necessitate that candidates who lose elections do so gracefully. Although that did not happen in this historic mayoral election, we cannot normalize baseless attempts to overturn certified elections.
“Now, we can move on to the general election on Aug. 4 with an opportunity to elect new leadership for the future of our county.
“Finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, let us honor the brave men and women who gave their ‘last full measure’ defending freedom.”
The panel said Mr. Hullander had removed his objection to the Wamp certification. Ms. Smedley said that was a surprise to her, saying she had expected him to join her in the appeal that was heard by Zoom.
Ms. Smedley read a statement at the hearing. She said Democrats are not qualified to vote in Republican elections. She said there was "a concerted and organized effort by Democrats" that was not made public until after the election.
She said Democrat Chris Anderson had tweeted, "Who said Democrats can't elect a Republican?"
Ms. Smedley asked that the election be set aside and have county Republicans hold a caucus to decide the party representative.
She was represented by attorney Catherine White.
Panel members said County Commissioner David Sharpe, a Democrat, had averred that Ms. Smedley had sought Democratic support. Ms. Smedley said she and Commissioner Sharpe "have had a tumultuous relationship and I have had to call him down many times."
She said Commissioner Sharpe had approached her and told her he did not want either Mr. Hullander or Mr. Wamp to win. She said she knows she received some Democratic votes, but she said she did not actively seek them.
Ms. Smedley said, "We came out of early voting 850 votes ahead. As the predominantly Democratic precincts came in we watched that vote turn."
She told committee members, "Democrats hijacked this election. This could happen to you."
Ms. Smedley stated, "I'm not here as a sore loser. I have a wonderful life and so much to go back to."
Mr. Wamp said some of the Democratic crossovers were perhaps some Democrats leaving that party.
He disputed her statement of 30 percent crossover voting, saying it was four percent.
Mr. Wamp said the election appeal "stands more of a chance to run my generation away from politics. It's necessary for people to lose and move on. This was an ugly process."
Several committee members said they had long been concerned about the effect of Democratic crossover voting. They said a way needed to be found to have "closed" primaries.
Others said even if Democrats had affected the outcome, it would not be possible to ascertain "who voted for whom."