Incumbent Franklin County Probate Court Judge losing race

A veteran probate attorney in his first run for public office defeated the incumbent Franklin County Probate Court judge Tuesday.

Democrat Jeff Mackey, 64, defeated Judge Robert G. Montgomery, a Republican, 54% to 46% with 99% of the vote counted.

Mackey credited the support of the Democratic party and what he called his “smart campaign team” for the win. 

“It’s very difficult to beat a well-funded,  tenured incumbent,” Mackey said.

Mackey himself had even given a $300 contribution to Montgomery in September 2019 when he wasn’t even thinking of running for the office. He was a late entry because former Congressman Zack Space dropped out of the Democratic race.

Although he had never run for office before, Mackey touted his 38 years in law practice that concentrated on estate planning and probate matters.

Montgomery was seeking his third term as probate court judge, a job he has held since 2011. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

In 2010, Montgomery was first elected to fill an unexpired term. The endorsed Republican won re-election in 2014.

Montgomery, 54, has been a Franklin County officeholder since 2001, when he was elected county recorder.

Franklin County Probate Court is a division of the Common Pleas Court that handles the transfer of assets after death, involuntary mental hospital commitment, guardians for the mentally incompetent and developmentally disabled, marriage licenses and adoption.

During his time on the probate court, Montgomery has won awards for his innovative approaches on various issues.

The Ohio Association of Probate Judges in 2019 gave Montgomery its Award of Judicial Excellence for being the first judge in Ohio to have social workers be appointed as guardians for the developmentally disabled rather than attorneys.

Franklin County’s guardianship program became the model for other counties to adopt and led to a change in the state law.

Montgomery said he believes the program was his biggest accomplishment.

The Columbus Bar Association and the Central Ohio Association for Justice had both given their  “highly recommended” ratings to Montgomery and Mackey.

jwoods@dispatch.com

@Woodsnight

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