This story was updated Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at 11:35 p.m. with more information.
While Democrats across the nation voted to select a presidential nominee, local Republicans used their Super Tuesday voting opportunity to give Hamilton County Assessor of Property Marty Haynes a second term after a contentious race.
Haynes won the race handily over County Commission Chairman Randy Fairbanks after a long, heated primary campaign between the former friends, a situation Haynes considers a testament to the status of politics in the county.
"I'm happy that the people re-elected me based on my accomplishments and my time in office, not based on any politics," Haynes said after a downtown election party brimming with state, county and city officials. "When you run, and all these people in the room have helped in some way, and your name's on the ballot, there's a sense of, well, euphoria might be too strong of a word."
Ultimately, Haynes brought home 13,885 votes, surpassing Fairbanks' 10,718, according to the Hamilton County Election Commission.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Fairbanks indirectly conceded to Haynes early in the night with just over a third of precincts reported.
"The numbers just aren't there. The percentages are too high," Fairbanks told the Times Free Press after ending his election watch party early with 57 of 135 precincts reporting. "I'm a little disappointed, but we tried and the people have spoken."
According to Haynes, as of around 11 p.m., Fairbanks had not actually called him or his campaign to concede.
The race between Fairbanks and Haynes, whose relationship deteriorated during their shared time on the county commission, has largely hinged on public perception of transparency and equity in the office. The assessor is responsible for assigning property values that influence tax bills.
A rift formed between the pair when Fairbanks and Haynes served as District 1 and District 3 county commissioners, respectively. As similarly conservative, longtime friends, they had supported one another as commissioners, but the relationship soured as the commission divided over discretionary spending.
Fairbanks ran a campaign based on distrust of Haynes and unproven accusations that Haynes unfairly lowered the property value of a political ally to save the property owner tax cost.
Despite multiple critical mailers and the accusations by Fairbanks, Haynes denied allegations of unfair assessments and ran his campaign on promises of continued fiscal prudence and transparency in the office.
With no challenger in the general election, Haynes will serve a four-year term, the length of one full reassessment cycle, make a little more than $130,000 a year and receive county benefits.
Triumphing over Fairbanks' attack campaign, Haynes said he expects more merit-based local politics going forward.
"We've seen a few really nasty local elections recently, and I think this shows that people really do want to vote for someone based on their accomplishments," he said. "And I'm glad to win for the employees of my office who feel like they've been under attack as well."
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at 423-757-6416 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.