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Incumbent Deters Appears To Win Hamilton County Prosecutor Race

joe deters
John Minchillo

As of early Wednesday morning, Joe Deters seems to have retained his role as Hamilton County prosecutor and maintained his mantle as the lone Republican to hold office in the county, having 52% of the vote to former Judge Fanon Rucker's 47%, with a majority of precincts reporting Tuesday night. Rucker, however, has not yet conceded.

Rucker issued a statement late Tuesday thanking supporters and saying he remains "resolved and optimistic about the next few days and weeks," concluding, "let's do this together." 

Though the majority of Hamilton County precincts have reported results, absentee ballots still have time to come in and provisional ballots from Election Day still need to be counted. 

During the campaign, Rucker – who spent 13 years as a municipal court judge, ran vowing to be a "full-time prosecutor" – a jab at the fact that Deters, in recent years, has had a private law practice in addition to being prosecutor.

Even more than a year before Tuesday's election, it was clear the Hamilton County Republican Party was prepared to pull out all the stops to re-elect Deters, the courthouse veteran who heads the largest county office still controlled by the GOP.

Asked by WVXU in 2019 what the top three priorities for the Hamilton County GOP would be in 2020, county party chair Alex Triantafilou had a simple answer: "Joe, Joe and Joe."

The GOP vowed to raise whatever money it could take to re-elect Deters. He had amassed a campaign fund of $1.3 million by mid-October, while Rucker had raised $322,000.

Ironically, this was not the first time Deters and Rucker went head to head for the prosecutor's office.

In 2004, Deters returned to Hamilton County from a stint as Ohio treasurer in order to run for prosecutor. The Republican incumbent, Mike Allen, had resigned, but it was too late for the GOP to replace him on the ballot. Rucker ended up running as the Democratic write-in. Deters won the battle of the write-ins.

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.