Incumbent state Rep. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, retained the 55th House District seat Tuesday after a victory over Democratic challenger Kelly Kraus-Mencke.
According to unofficial election results posted by the Lorain County Board of Elections, Manning received 30,304 votes, or 61 percent of the vote, while Kraus-Mencke received 19,470 votes, or 39 percent.
Manning, 34, is an attorney with a law office in North Ridgeville who has held the seat since 2014. He ran on a platform of bringing jobs to the county through a focus on education and job training, and has said the county needs to tackle the heroin epidemic head on.
Manning and his supporters gathered at The Foundry on Broad Street in Elyria on Tuesday as results came in. After the final precincts were counted, Manning — reached by phone — said he is humbled by the support voters showed and the support those who campaigned with him showed.
“I think two long years of working here as a state representative certainly paid off,” he said.
Manning lauded Kraus-Mencke for the work she put into her campaign.
“She came in late and didn’t have the time to raise money and get a good foundation,” Manning said. “I know how hard it is to run a campaign, and I saw her out there taking time away from work, family and friends. I certainly respect that.”
Kraus-Mencke, 35, is a sales support specialist who works for PR Newswire. She is a newcomer to politics, with this race being her first bid for public office.
Kraus-Mencke stepped in to replace Sheffield Councilman and Democrat Kevin Watkinson who ran in the Democratic primary for the 55th District and later stepped down. Kraus-Mencke ran on a platform of tackling unemployment in the district and finding a solution to school funding in Ohio, which has been ruled unconstitutional.
Kraus-Mencke gathered at the Rosewood Party Center on Oberlin Avenue in Lorain Tuesday with other Democrats to watch results.
Kraus-Mencke — reached by phone — said Manning ran an admirable campaign. She also said that she isn’t throwing out the possibility of another bid for the 55th District in a couple of years.
“I truly appreciate Nathan’s hard work,” she said. “We share some of the same concerns for the district, jobs and education, and I know that he’ll represent us well.”
Voters questioned at polling locations in North Ridgeville and Avon Lake, including some Democrats, largely expressed support for Manning.
Josie Bray, a friend of the Houdeshell family whose son Kevin died when he couldn’t refill an insulin prescription, said she respects Manning for his work to draft legislation which ensures patients receive access to life-saving drugs like insulin.
“He did something for our local community,” Bray said.
When questioned about the race outside the Avon Lake Public Library, resident Mary Doty said she hoped Manning would be ousted.
“I’m just doing my feminist movement by voting for Kelly,” she said.