In what many considered one of Butler’s County’s most contested — and expensive — races this primary, William “Wink” Robinson edged out his closest competition on both sides of the political divide to likely become the county’s newest Common Pleas Court judge.
“I was fully prepared before Penn Township West came in,” Robinson said of how he was gearing up for a fall campaign when the phone call from a friend came through telling him he’d narrowly won both parties’ nominations. “It was pretty breathtaking. I am very happy the Butler County voters supported me on both tickets.”
It all came down to that final precinct and a mere six votes before Robinson knew for sure whether he would face a competitor in the fall. All four of the candidates for judge cross-filed, meaning they appeared on both the Democratic and Republican ballots.
Before Penn Township West came in, it appeared as though Robinson and his closest rival — Jennifer Gilliland Vanasdale — would be squaring off in a fall election as she was up by one vote on the Democratic ticket. Wink’s 38 Democratic votes to Vanasdale’s 31 were just enough to put him on the top on both tickets.
“I’m tired and relieved that the hard work is over and I’m extremely grateful to my committee and all the poll workers,” Robinson said as he gathered with family and friends at his law office in Butler.
With unofficial final votes tallied, Robinson took more than 35 percent of the Republican vote with 6,196 votes, nearly 2,000 votes ahead of Vanasdale, who garnered 4,224 votes. Matt Fischer came in third with 4,040 votes, followed by Nicole Lynn Thurner’s 3,154 votes.
Robinson also ended the night with a very narrow lead on the Democratic side, besting Vanasdale by just six votes with 3,194 votes to her 3,188 votes. Both candidates were far ahead of their competitors for the Democratic nomination, with Thurner garnering 1,838 votes and Fischer taking 798 votes.
Although she was defeated in Tuesday's primary, Vanasdale said she is still considering a run in the fall as a write-in candidate.
“I'll sit back and analyze,” Vanasdale said. “I see no reason why I wouldn't continue. I'm not going to stop with my goal of making a positive change.”
Vanasdale said she believed that the race could have been much closer had there been just two candidates to choose from instead of four.
Robinson pulled ahead in the Republican votes early on and kept in stride for the better part of the evening. But tallies remained close on the Democratic side between the two.
At the end of the night, Robinson said he was most proud of the campaign he ran, adding how he was completely self-funded.
“I'm really pleased that I lived up to my pledges of running a fair, honest and clean campaign,” Robinson said.
One candidate who said she will definitely return again to the political arena was Thurner, who said she was proud of the campaign she ran and happy for the experience of getting out there to meet voters.
“It's been an amazing experience,” Thurner said. “I wouldn't trade it for anything. This isn't a one and out kind of deal for me. I'm still going to run again. There will be plenty of opportunity.”
The Eagle also reached out to Matt Fischer who was unavailable for comment.