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Cops and Courts

Rothgery turns back Burge in Common Pleas Court Democratic primary

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Former Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge failed in his bid to return to the bench Tuesday, losing in the Democratic primary to county Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery.

Rothgery received 18,958 votes, or 60 percent of the ballots cast in the race, according to unofficial election returns from the county’s Board of Elections. Burge garnered 12,701 votes, or 40 percent.

Rothgery, who first took the bench in 2005, said he was pleased with his victory.

“I’m happy for myself and my staff that the people of Lorain County have recognized we’re doing a good job and have returned me to the bench for another six years,” he said.

No Republican or independent candidates filed to run in the race, leaving Rothgery without a challenger in November.

Burge, who served as a judge from 2007 until last year, said the controversies that swirled around his final years in office had a negative impact on his campaign. He resigned from the bench last year following his conviction on misdemeanor charges.

“After two years of bad press, the brand won’t sell,” Burge said.

The race between Burge and Rothgery was particularly acrimonious with both men trading barbs and criticizing each other in campaign material.

Burge has long blamed Rothgery for instigating the investigation that ultimately led to the criminal charges against him. Rothgery had taken concerns about Burge’s campaign tactics to county Prosecutor Dennis Will, who turned the case over to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office.

Although Burge was never charged with crimes relating to the allegations brought to Will by Rothgery, Burge was indicted in September 2014 on charges dealing with his interest in Whiteacre North, a company that owned the Lorain office building where Burge had operated his legal practice before being elected judge.

Burge was convicted of misdemeanor charges that centered on discrepancies in financial disclosure forms all judges are required to file. Burge has maintained that he did nothing illegal and is appealing his conviction.

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