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Politically Speaking is WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson's column that examines the world of politics and how it shapes the world around us.

New Congressman Landsman: 'I expect to spend more time in the district than Washington'

A close-up of Greg Landsman wearing a bight blue t-shirt while looking off in the distance
Aaron Doster
Greg Landsman sits for an interview with the Associated Press, Sept. 16, 2022, in Cincinnati.

As the new congressman from the 1st Congressional District, Greg Landsman wants to be both seen and heard.

Heard as a member of the minority Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill and seen by his constituents back home.

"I expect to spend more time in the district than I do in Washington," Landsman said over breakfast at a Clifton diner last week. "I want people in the district to be able to see me, talk to me, tell me their concerns. I want to be an easy guy to get in touch with."

And he says he will do something Steve Chabot — the man he defeated Nov. 8 — used to do but abandoned in his later years in Congress: hold wide-open "town hall" meetings with constituents.

"I'm talking about real town hall meetings, not these phone tele-town halls," Landsman said. "Meetings that are announced well in advance and are open to all."

Chabot was often criticized for not publicizing his town halls, and if he did, only to people and media outlets he suspected would be friendly to him.

Landsman's town hall meetings will happen in both Warren and Hamilton counties.

He said that, soon, he will launch a "100-day tour across the district" over a period of time, not all at once.

"I want to listen and hear from people what is working and what is not," Landsman said. "I want people to have a seat at the table who haven't been invited in the past."

Landsman, a former public school teacher, wants to do all of this in his time back in the district and still spend time with his family in Mount Washington — his wife Sarah, and their two kids, 11-year-old Maddie and 13-year-old Elijah.

"I can manage my time," Landsman said. "I'm not going to miss any of the kids' games and still spend time with constituents."

In November, the 46-year-old (now former) Cincinnati City Council member from Mount Washington defeated Chabot, who held that seat for all but two of the past 28 years. It was a major red-to-blue pickup in an election cycle where the Democrats tried and failed to maintain their slim majority in the U.S. House.

It was a victory made possible by the fact that the congressional district map used in the 2022 election created a district that included ruby-red Warren County and the entire deep blue city of Cincinnati. It went from a district that gave Donald Trump a three-point margin in the 2020 election to a district that went for Joe Biden by nearly 9 percentage points.

Now, Landsman is less than two weeks away from being sworn in as a member of the 118th Congress of the United States.

His days now are taken up with decisions and preparation, and the orientation that all new members of Congress go through.

Rep.-elect Greg Landsman, D-Ohio, arrives for New Member Orientation check-in and program registration at the Hyatt Regency, in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.
Carolyn Kaster
Rep.-elect Greg Landsman, D-Ohio, arrives for New Member Orientation check-in and program registration at the Hyatt Regency, in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.

Landsman has had a lot of decisions to make lately and a lot to learn about the life of a member.

He has made most of his major staffing decisions — he has hired a chief of staff (Leslie Grubb, his campaign manager), a district director, communications director, legislative director, senior case manager, and outreach director.

The new congressman is angling for committee assignments, of course. He's put in for the House Appropriations Committee — as a freshman, he's unlikely to get a seat on that powerful committee, but it doesn't hurt to ask. He has asked for assignments to the Education and Labor Committee, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Small Business Committee.

Landsman's Capitol Hill office will be 1432 Longworth House Office Building — named after Cincinnati's Nicholas Longworth, who was House Speaker from 1925-1931. When he is in Washington, he will be living in a small apartment in Navy Yard, a very hip, trendy neighborhood that is near the Washington Nationals ballpark and is within easy walking distance of his Longworth office.

In the district, he plans to keep Chabot's storefront office in Lebanon to serve Warren County constituents. Landsman is still trying to decide where his Hamilton County office will be.

"I don't want it in an office building; we're looking for something in a neighborhood setting where people can walk in off the street," Landsman said. "I want it to be a welcoming place."

A storefront office in Cincinnati would be a distinct departure from Chabot, whose district office now is a long elevator ride up the Carew Tower in Downtown Cincinnati.

Landsman says he expects to sign onto or introduce legislation that will:

  • "lower cost and uplift workers and families," like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit
  • improve safety by increasing federal public safety grants
  • "safeguard our democracy against further efforts to subvert it."

When we talked last week in Clifton, Landsman was just coming from having coffee in Hyde Park with Brad Wenstrup, the Republican congressman from the adjacent 2nd Congressional District.

"Brad is a good guy," Landsman said. "Obviously we don't agree on everything. But he is the type of person I think I can work with to get things done that will help working people in both of our districts.

"I understand I am going into this as a member of the minority caucus," Landsman said. "But I can turn that into a plus. It just gives me more opportunities to reach across the aisle and work with colleagues on issues that matter to everyone.

"I am in this to help make people's lives better. And I will work with anybody on that."

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.