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Hartmann and Portune getting free rides to re-election

The two members of the Hamilton County board of commissioners who are up for re-election this year – Republican Greg Hartmann and Democrat Todd Portune – will have no major party opponents in the Nov. 6 election.

Leaders of both major political parties said giving the commissioners a free ride was not part of a deal. Four years ago, both Portune and Hartmann faced weak opponents who had little or no party backing.

The two political parties tried and failed to come up with county commission candidates by Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

The Democrats had a candidate in former Cincinnati councilman Greg Harris who filed to run against Hartmann, the current commission president, back in December, but Harris dropped out before the March primary, citing business obligations.

Harris recently offered to come back if the Democrats needed him, but Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke told WVXU that “it is too late for that.”

“We talked to a number of people about running and it just didn’t work out,” Burke said.

The Republicans did have a place-holder candidate who filed in December – the county party’s finance director, Maggie Wuellner – who was on the March primary ballot and would have withdrawn had the party found a better-known and well-funded candidate.

Hamilton County GOP chairman Alex Triantafilou said he worked hard to find a candidate to take Wuellner’s place, “but we came up empty.”

Wuellner, Triantafilou said, would withdraw from the race.

That means Portune will face no Republican opponent and will be challenged by Bob Frey, a Libertarian, as the only other name on the ballot. Hartmann will have no third party opponent.

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.