8th District Voters Go To Polls Tuesday To Choose A Congressman
The first of two elections this year to fill the vacant seat of former House Speaker John Boehner in Ohio's 8th Congressional District takes places Tuesday.
It is a special election to fill out the unexpired term of Boehner, the West Chester Republican, who not only resigned the speakership but resigned from the House last fall. He was, in essence, pushed out by a rebellious Republican House caucus that believed Boehner was too willing to compromise with the Democrat in the White House
The candidates will be Warren Davidson, a Republican from Troy; Corey Foister, a Democrat from West Chester and James J. Condit Jr. of White Oak (which is outside the district) and occupies the Green Party line on the ballot (although the Green Party of Ohio has disowned him).
The winner will become the new 8th District congressman for the rest of the two year term Boehner was re-elected to in 2014.
Two of the three, Davidson and Foister, will face off on the Nov. 8 ballot for a full two-year term as the 8th District's representative in the U.S. House. Condit has been given notice by the officials of the Butler County Board of Elections that he will not be on the ballot in November because he voted in the Republican primary in Hamilton County in March.
The 8th District includes Butler (the most populous county of the district), Preble, Darke, Miami, and Clark counties, along with part of Mercer County.
The one thing to know about the 8th District is that it may well be the most heavily-Republican of Ohio's 16 congressional districts.
For nearly a quarter of a century, voters returned Boehner to the House by huge margins every two years. As recently as 2014, the Democrats didn't even bother to field a candidate against Boehner.
Boehner's resignation set off a stampede of Republicans filing to run in the March special primary election – 15 in all. Only Foister filed on the Democratic side.
In the 15-candidate field, Davidson, a hitherto unknown Miami County businessman, won with 33 percent of the vote – largely due to a large campaign fund and about $1.1 million spent promoting his candidacy by a national conservative organization, the Club for Growth.
It set up a contest in Tuesday's special general election where the Republican – by the nature of the district and by the financial support he has – is the clear favorite to win.
Who are these people whose names the people of the 8th district will find on the ballot Tuesday?
Before he joined the 15-candidate field of Republican candidates for Boehner's 8th District seat last December, Davidson had very little experience with politics – just a two-year stint as a Concord Township Trustee in Miami County.
But he did have a resume that seemed to suit a Republican electorate that, after 25 years of Boehner, the consummate Washington insider, was clearing looking for someone who was a political outsider, someone who had no experience with Washington except, perhaps, as a sight-seer.
He is a graduate of West Point and a former Army Ranger, with a distinguished military record in 12 years of active duty. He is a family man, with a wife and two children. And he is a successful small businessman in his home county.
In Washington, the people who fund conservatives running for House and Senate seats can sniff out a candidate with the right resume for the times; and, in this case, it was not long before they understood that 8th District Republicans weren't looking for a professional politician.
National organizations like Club for Growth and FreedomWorks got behind Davidson quickly. So did the Senate Conservatives Fund and Citizens for Community Values.
It enabled Davidson to vault past Republican office-holders like State Rep. Tim Derickson of Hanover Township and State Sen. Bill Beagle of Tipp City with relative ease.
He is using that resume now, in the special general election.
"I'm asking voters to look at the resume; look at the sort of experience I have had; look at the ideas I have,'' Davidson told WVXU.
And what ideas does he talk about?
On national security, Davidson, on his campaign website, says "let's keep our nation safe, give our soldiers what they need and defeat ISIS."
"We can and must destroy them without spending another $4 trillion dollars occupying and rebuilding more of the Middle East,'' Davidson's website says.
He has also called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act – "Obamacare." Americans, he said, should have "powerful, free market forces working to control costs and quality, rather than protected oligarchs and government monopolies working to serve themselves."
On immigration, Davidson said he will use his military experience "to help secure our borders, ensure that we have an invulnerable immigration process and end the perverse incentives that keep making the problems worse."
He has vowed to protect Second Amendment rights for gun owners, opposes abortion, believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and that "individuals and businesses should be able to practice their faith without big brother watching over their shoulders."
Davidson told WVXU that if Donald Trump is the GOP nominee – as he certainly will be – he will support him for the presidency.
"I don't get the idea of why we as a party would want to fracture ourselves,'' Davidson said. "If Republicans fracture and Hillary Clinton isn't in jail, she's going to win and we can't let that happen."
You can read more about Davidson on his campaign website here.
At the age of 26 – only a year beyond the minimum age for the member of the U.S. House – the West Chester Democrat said he is often asked why he is running at such a young age?
"They say, 'you have plenty of time, why don't you wait?,''' Foister told WVXU. "'You have all the time in the world,' they say.
"Then I tell them my story."
His story is that at the age of six months, he was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer.
"Being a cancer survivor, I know very well that no one is guaranteed all the time in the world,'' Foister said. "You take advantage of your opportunities when they come. And this is something I have wanted to do, because I believe in public service."
Foister was born in Hamilton and was a graduate of Fairfield High School. He went to Northern Kentucky University where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science.
He wrote for the school newspaper and spent two years in student government as a senator.
He works as a freelance writer and has created a website that covers politics called Next Generation America.
As a liberal Democrat, he knows what he is up against in the very conservative, heavily Republican 8th District.
"When I am out campaigning, I try to talk about bipartisan issues; things that people from both sides of the aisle can get behind,'' Foister said. "Infrastructure is one. We have bridges all over the country that are structurally unsound, including one here in Cincinnati. Republicans and Democrats should be working together to solve that problem. It is not a partisan issue."
Foister said that when he has been in debates with Davidson, "he keeps talking about abortion and transgender bathrooms. We're never going to agree on these things. We need to start talking about things where we can meet in the middle and come up with solutions."
On his website, Foister has a litany of priorities if elected:
- A pledge to "never support any legislation that increases wealth inequality in America."
- Raising the capital gains tax on the wealthiest one percent of Americans.
- "Global warming is real and it is a serious problem that America must take the lead in combating."
- Opposition to the Keystone Pipeline, "a bad idea and I would never support building a pipeline across America just so China can have cheap tar sand from Canada."
- Support for President Obama's Iran deal.
- Opposes putting groups on the ground in Syria, saying Muslim nations "must lead the effort in combating ISIS."
Win or lose on Tuesday, Foister said he will keep campaigning hard throughout the six-county district for the full two-year term in November.
"I hope what I am doing will encourage other young people to get involved,'' Foister said. "What I really want to do is to encourage other young people to run for office. That would breathe new life into the political system."
You can read more about Foister at his campaign website here.
James J. Condit Jr.
Condit, who has been involved in the fringes of southwest Ohio politics for decades, as a candidate and as a citizen who has claimed that the vote-counting system in Ohio is intentionally rigged, is the first to admit that he blew it this time.
He should have never filed as a candidate under the banner of the Green Party, which has ballot status in Ohio.
"That was totally my fault; and I know it,'' Condit told WVXU. "The Green Party was not very happy about it. And I shouldn't have done it. But I wanted to be on the ballot in this election."
After the March primary, election officials were told by Green Party leaders in Hamilton County that Condit had voted in the March primary this year as a Republican. In fact, his voting record shows he has voted in nine Republican primaries since 1993.
In May, Butler County election officials sent Condit a letter saying that because he had voted in the GOP primary in Hamilton County, he could not be the Green Party nominee for the November election in the 8th District.
"As such, you are no longer considered a candidate in the November 8 general election for the 8th Congressional race,'' Butler County Elections Director Diane Noonan told Condit in her letter.
But Condit will be on Tuesday's ballots and votes cast for Condit in the special general election will be counted, Butler County election officials say.
The Green Party, in the meantime, has made it clear they want nothing to do with Condit.
"The Green Party does not endorse Condit,'' Ohio Green Party co-chair Constance Gadell-Newton said in an e-mail. ""He ran as a Green to get on the ballot and then subsequently registered as a Republican. We do not endorse him as a Green or an independent."
On his website, Condit touts his "precinct strategy" to "overthrow the Democratic and Republican County leadership in every county, peacefully and constitutionally."
He also says he wants to restore "honest elections," "a Constitutionally-minded Congress," and "impeach and remove all unconstitutional judges."
Condit said he has been buying radio advertising and trying to get his message out.
"I would like to win, but when you are outspent by hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is not realistic to think I could win, but I could get my message out,'' Condit said. "And I have done that."
You can read more about Condit at his website here.