It's Ronayne vs. Weingart for Cuyahoga County Executive, But Tariq Shabazz Mounted Stiff Challenge

click to enlarge Republican Lee Weingart (L) and Demorat Chris Ronayne (R)
Republican Lee Weingart (L) and Demorat Chris Ronayne (R)

Democrat Chris Ronayne, the former University Circle Inc. President and CEO,  will face Republican Lee Weingart, a former Cuyahoga County Commissioner and businessman, in the November general election for Cuyahoga County Executive.

In Tuesday's primary, Weingart ran unopposed on the Republican side and secured 37,192 total votes. Ronayne, who had amassed establishment support and the county Democratic Party endorsement after the implosion of the Brad Sellers' campaign, defeated young challenger Tariq Shabazz 66% to 34%.

Shabazz's performance countywide was nevertheless impressive, given his lack of traditional campaign infrastructure and Ronayne's war chest.

Shabazz  mounted a stiff challenge in the city of Cleveland itself, tallying 8,644 votes to Ronayne's 10,681, and he carried the eastern suburbs of Bedford Heights, East Cleveland, Maple Heights and Warrensville Heights. He was not far behind in the suburb of Euclid and lost by only eight votes in Garfield Heights.

Ronayne's steep margins of victory in the majority of the suburbs led to his convincing win, but given the disparities in campaign financing and name recognition, garnering more than 26,000 total votes was no small feat for Shabazz, who proposed a people-first vision of county government.

In the heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County, Ronayne will be considered the favorite in the general, but the next few months still figure to be a slugfest. Weingart has shown fundraising prowess of his own and no reluctance to hammer Ronayne for his rhetoric and positions, including Ronayne's support for investing millions of dollars into the Global Center for Health Innovation.

For his part, Ronayne has advanced a policy platform that he calls "Healthy Cuyahoga," which is concerned with improving the health of the population and the regional economy to restore trust in local government.

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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