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Tom Waniewski comes up short in bid for mayor

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    Mayoral candidate Tom Waniewski talks strategy with campaign workers from left Carter Bomeli, 17, and Samuel Scherf, 15, at his election headquarters Tuesday in Toledo.

    THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
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    Mayoral candidate Tom Waniewski, left, and Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook try and check on results Tuesday in Toledo.

    THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
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Tom Waniewski’s effort to become Toledo’s first Republican mayor since the 1980s has fallen short.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Waniewski finished unofficially with 6,659 votes, 1,691 votes behind Democratic challenger Wade Kapszukiewicz, who finished second.

Mr. Waniewski said he’s surprised and disappointed by a low voter turnout.

“When 10 percent of the Toledo voters come out, that does not say a lot,” he said. “But we had a great run. We had a great organization.”

WATCH: Tom Waniewski concedes the Toledo mayoral race

Mr. Waniewski still has two years remaining on his Toledo city council term. He said he will not run again for mayor.

“The political process sours me, and after seeing tonight, I’m more soured by it because there was no substance or professionalism on the other side. There was no professionalism. I always felt hard work always paid off, but in this race, it did not.”

As Mr. Waniewski walked into his campaign headquarters 10 minutes after polls closed Tuesday night, the crowd erupted in applause.

The Toledo city councilman and Republican candidate for mayor grinned from ear-to-ear and led the room in a chant of, “Tom, Tom, Tom!”

“I've never seen so many good looking people in one gathering,” Mr. Waniewski said. 

Dozens of people assembled at the headquarters on South Bryne Road to monitor the primary results. Campaign staff, friends, and supporters enjoyed a Polish-themed dinner with kielbasa and mashed potatoes.

Mr. Waniewski said he started visiting polling places at 6:30 Tuesday morning.

“After I voted, I waved for several hours, then visited some other polling locations,” he said. “We did phone-calling back here to get people out. We got some great feedback, and I hope that translates into votes.” 

Mr. Waniewski said he was concerned about voters understanding the primary is non-partisan. The Republican contender said he had to remind multiple people of the rules.

Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook was one of many guests in attendance. He said he was impressed with the dedication of Mr. Waniewski’s volunteers.

“We made 10,000 phone calls, passed out fliers, walked in parades,” Mr. Stainbrook said. “You have to get out the vote, and that’s what we've done since Day 1.”

Mr. Waniewski said many of the campaign’s 150 volunteers showed up Tuesday night. Former Toledo mayors Donna Owens and Mike Bell also made appearances.

“I am hugely proud,” Mr. Waniewski said. “We had a tremendous grassroots campaign. We built a machine here I think rivals any political party and it's been operating really well. It's very humbling because there are so many people involved.

“I'm more disappointed than surprised. I thought there would more people voting. I thought more people would listen to our message.”

Contact Jay Skebba at jskebba@theblade.com, 419-376-9414, or on Twitter @JaySkebbaBlade.

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