Republican candidate Frank Hoagland beat incumbent Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, in the Ohio Senate race for the 30th district Tuesday. Hoagland received nearly 53 percent of the vote, while Gentile received 47 percent.
“With this election, the people of eastern and southeastern Ohio have called for change,” Hoagland said after his victory. “I’m ready to answer that call.”
Hoagland, a small business owner and retired Navy SEAL, has prided himself on not being a “career politician.” He said he is frustrated by the lack of progress in Southeast Ohio, according to a previous Post report.
In a brief statement following his victory, Hoagland took time to thank his supporters.
“My wife Darla, my family, my dedicated staff and volunteers, we wouldn’t have won without them,” Hoagland said. “It’s not about me, it’s about them."
Gentile has served as a state senator since 2011, when he was appointed to the position by Democrats in the Ohio Senate. In the 2012 race for state senator representing District 30, Gentile won re-election with 66.08 percent of the votes in Athens County.
Gentile received a degree in political science from West Virginia University. He previously served as Assistant Director for the Governor’s Office of Appalachia under former Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.
As of Oct. 31, Gentile raised $420,000 during the general election, while Hoagland raised $35,000. Gentile’s largest contributions came from the national Democratic Legislative Committee in Washington, D.C., the Ohio State Association of Plumbers, the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 495 in Cambridge and the Columbus office of the Service Employees International Union.
“Clearly this race is characterized by a surge in rural voter turnout,” Zach Reizes, a sophomore studying global studies — war and peace and a member of Clinton's Athens campaign, said. “If that hurts Hillary Clinton, it also would have hurt down-ballot candidates.”
Ohio University College Republicans President David Parkhill said he was surprised by the margin of victory, but he added Ohio voters were ready for a change.
“People are sick of Democratic values,” Parkhill said.
The Democratic candidate for the 94th district seat at the Ohio Statehouse, Sarah Grace, said support for Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in Ohio likely affected down-ballot races.
“It’s been a really tough race all along eastern Ohio,” Grace said.
Grace also said she thought Gentile has been “a wonderful senator” and believed he should have won another term.
“Lou has consistently fought for miners and workers right, and he cares about this district more than anyone,” Sam Miller, president of the Ohio University College Democrats, said.
Miller said she couldn’t wait to see what Gentile does next, and this race would not be the last voters would see of him. Miller also criticized Hoagland for being “on record” as saying he would not campaign in Athens because it didn’t consist of his core constituents. In the past, Hoagland’s campaign has declined to speak with local media for such reasons.