LISBON - Small business owner Dan Bailey won the Democratic primary race for Columbiana County commissioner, defeating Nathan Walker 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent.
Bailey moves on the November general election, where he will face Republican incumbent Commissioner Mike Halleck, who was unopposed in Tuesday's primary election.
The 31-year-old Bailey lives in Salem, where he owns and operates a video game store. Bailey could not be reached for comment last night because his voice mailbox was full, but he based his campaign largely on the fact he is a small business owner and a big believer in advancing the county's IT infrastructure.
Walker, 37, was reached for comment and expressed "disappointment" in the outcome, saying he really has no idea how he lost to Bailey, suggesting perhaps some Republicans crossed over to vote against him because they feared him.
"It's pretty disappointing to lose to a guy who didn't campaign," Walker said, pointing out that Bailey -who was recruited by the county Democratic Party - put up all of two campaign signs but did little else.
Walker ran by far the more aggressive campaign, putting up numerous signs, maintaining an active online presence via Facebook, and issuing news releases. He made drug testing for public officials the focus of one of his news releases, challenging Bailey and Halleck to voluntarily be tested. Walker followed through by having himself tested.
Walker also called on Bailey to withdraw from the race because of $27,000 in business-related tax judgments against him and his former business partner, saying Bailey said his biggest asset was his business experience.
But Walker had some issues of his own. He was found guilty in 2007 of urinating behind a Guilford Lake convenience store, and his political advisor was former county Recorder Craig Brown, who lost his 2012 re-election bid after a female employee accused him of making inappropriate comments to her.
Walker was asked if these issues may have contributed to his loss. "Maybe, but is it really as bad as someone" who owes $27,000 in back taxes, he asked.
"Good luck running against Halleck ... and good luck to the county. They're going to need it," he said.