MARIETTA - Election Day 2012 is finally here-one of the longest days of the year for politicians, some of whom have been on the campaign trail for more than a year now.
While Washington County voters who have not already cast absentee or early in-person ballots visit the polls today, local candidates will bide the time in a variety of ways.
Ohio 94th District Rep. Debbie Phillips won't have a lot of extra time on her hands as she'll be spending the day in Columbus with the House Democratic Caucus where she's co-chair of the statewide campaign committee.
"We'll be tracking all of the House races across the state, probably into the wee hours of the morning," she said. "Our candidates have worked hard on their campaigns, and we're expecting some close races. One candidate said she's personally knocked on 70,000 doors during her campaign."
Phillips said this is her first Election Day working with the caucus.
"On past Election Days I would often meet somewhere with friends to hang out and watch the returns, but I won't be doing that this year," she said.
Election Day Events
* The Women in Christian Service of the Little Hocking United Methodist Church will be holding an Election Day Soup Dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 4 to 7 p.m. Vegetable beef soup, soup beans, cornbread, drink and dessert will be served, eat in or carry out. Donations accepted. The church is at the corner of Federal Road and Ohio 124 in Little Hocking, across from the elementary school. For information, call 989-2374.
* The Beverly UMC's annual Election Day Dinner/Bazaar will be from 5 to 7 p.m., with the craft bazaar open from 4 to 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by the United Methodist Women and will consist of a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Suggested donation is $7 for adults and $4 for children. Call 984-2100 for carry-out.
The church is at 700 Park St. in Beverly.
* An Election Day bake sale sponsored by Sand Hill United Methodist Church in Reno will begin at 6:30 a.m. at the Marietta Township Recreation Center, 260 Sandhill Road. For information, call 373-8712.
* The First Presbyterian Church, Fourth and Wooster streets in Marietta, is holding an Election Day dinner from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Suggested donation is $6 for soup, sandwich, dessert and beverage. The dinner is sponsored by the church's Presbyterian Women. For information, call 373-1800.
Her opponent in the 94th District race, Republican Charles Richter, compared Election Day to a sports event like a ball game.
"You get the pre-game jitters, and when the game starts they go away," he said. "But on Election Day those jitters don't go away until you get the final results."
To help steady his nerves, Richter plans to celebrate his wife's birthday, which happens to fall on Election Day, and he may visit campaign centers in Meigs and Athens counties.
"We've also been invited to Marietta to watch the returns (this) evening," he said.
Republican Sixth District U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson, of Marietta, plans to spend most of the day with his family.
"The time for worrying about the campaign is over," he said. "I'm going to spend quite a bit of time with the family, although we do plan to get out to some of the victory centers, and we'll have lunch at the First Presbyterian Church Election Day dinner."
Later in the evening Johnson has reserved the Town House restaurant on Front Street where he and friends will be watching the election returns.
Democratic Party challenger Charlie Wilson will start out a busy day in Columbiana County, according to campaign spokesman JR Starrett.
"We'll start at our Lisbon office where 150 campaign volunteers will be working," Starrett said Monday. "We're also expecting some rallies at Steubenville and Belmont County, then will end the day at a Democratic watch party at Undo's West restaurant in St. Clairsville."
Republican candidate for Washington County Common Pleas Judge Mark Kerenyi is working on Election Day.
"I'm working through the day which should help keep my mind off the race, but I'll probably be getting nervous after 5 p.m.," he said. "During the evening I'll be moving between the Republican headquarters and the county courthouse."
Kerenyi said he's taking Wednesday off and will likely spend that day driving around the county to pick up election signs.
Randy Burnworth, who's running against Kerenyi in the race for common pleas judge, has similar plans.
"I'll be working here at the magistrate's office the biggest part of the day, then I'll join my wife for dinner," he said. "Later in the evening we'll find someplace to watch the election results."
Burnworth said he'll begin picking up election signs soon after the polls close at 7:30 p.m. today.
Voters and candidates won't have to go hungry as churches are serving Election Day dinners.
Pastor Jenni Dunham said the Little Hocking United Methodist Church Election Day soup dinners are a popular affair each year.
"We usually have a great turnout of people," she said. "We're serving soup beans and vegetable soup, and they can eat in or carry it out."
Dunham said the event is a fundraiser for the church and donations help support community service projects.
The Beverly UMC will hold a combined Election Day Dinner and Bazaar today.
"This is an annual event the women of the church have been organizing long before I came here nine years ago," said Pastor Jeff Corbett. "They have plenty of food and will also sell crafts at the bazaar."
He said the church expects a higher turnout for the dinner this year due to the presidential election.
"But this goes beyond a church fundraiser-it's a ministry for us," Corbett said. "People come in hungry and have some time for fellowship. There's no preaching. And we get a lot of people who don't normally come into the church."
Other Election Day food events include a bake sale at Sand Hill UMC in Reno, as well as dinner at First Presbyterian Church in Marietta.