Today Ohioans lost a great public servant in Speaker of the House, John Boehner as he plans to resign his seat effective October 30th. Speaker Boehner has represented Ohio’s 8th Congressional District since 1991. Upon Speaker Boehner’s resignation, Governor Kasich will call a special election for the seat and will decide dates for both a primary and General Election. Ohio’s 8th District carries a plus 15 Republican political index and the field for the GOP is likely be very crowded with many candidates that are eager to run for the seat following Speaker Boehner’s departure.
In the last ten years, there have been three special elections for congressional seats in Ohio. The first was when then Congressman Rob Portman was appointed U.S. Trade Representative by the Bush administration, making way for former State Representative Jean Schmidt to become the second female Republican elected to congress in Ohio. The second special election was in 2007 when then State Representative Bob Latta defeated fellow State Representative Steve Buehrer to fill the seat of late Congressman Paul Gillmor who passed away unexpectedly months earlier. The most recent special election was held in 2008 when Marcia Fudge won the seat held by the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who also passed away unexpectedly while in office. In each case, the special elections occurred very soon after the seats were vacated. In the case of Portman’s seat, the primary was held in June, one month following his resignation with the General Election held in August. In the case of the Gillmor seat, the primary was held two months later in November, with the general in December. In the case Congresswoman Fudge’s seat, a primary was held two months following the death of Congresswoman Tubb-Jones followed by a General Election on November 4th that year. With a March of 2016 primary in Ohio, Governor Kasich will likely act fast to call the special election in an attempt to seat the new member of Congress in a timely fashion.
As previously stated, Ohio’s 8th Congressional District is listed as a solid Republican seat with a plus 15 Republican political index by Cook Political Report. This race, in all likelihood, comes down to the Republican primary. Before discussing some of the likely candidates, let’s discuss where the primary voters reside as to provide context for the geographic advantages that a potential candidate may have in the special election. The 8th District is made up of the suburban Dayton and Cincinnati communities, the City of Springfield, and surrounding rural areas. It includes Butler, Preble, Miami, Darke, Mercer, and Clark Counties. Last year in Speaker Boehner’s Congressional Primary, a total of 67,855 votes were cast, with the plurality of Republican primary electorate residing in Butler County.
Total Votes Cast (County BOE Data): 67,855
Butler 29,218 (43.05 %)
Clark 12,680 (18.68%)
Miami 12,571 (18.52%)
Preble 5,904 (8.70 %)
Darke 5,534 (8.15 %)
Mercer 1,948 (2.87%)
Speculation on potential GOP candidates will continue to develop and grow over the coming days. Here are a few early names to consider:
State Senator Bill Coley (R-Liberty Twp.)-Having represented Butler County in the Ohio General Assembly for a decade, Senator Coley will be familiar to perhaps the biggest number of primary voters. (Ruled out a bid for the seat on 9/30)
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina)-While residing near the northernmost portion of the district, Senate President Faber has represented 4 of the 6 counties in the congressional district while serving in the General Assembly since 2000. His prolific fundraising and statewide network makes him a serious contender should he opt to run. He has widely been expected to pursue a statewide office in 2018.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones-Never afraid to step in front of the television cameras, this cable news regular is already weighing his options for a potential congressional bid. (Ruled out a bid for the seat on 10/2)
State Senator Chris Widener (R-Springfield)-Term limited from the Senate in 2016, many have speculated what Senator Widener’s next move will be. Congress would certainly be a viable option.
Former State Representative Ross McGregor (R-Springfield)-Always a top target for House Democrats while serving in the Ohio House, Ross McGregor is no stranger to difficult campaigns and could be formidable should he chose to run.
State Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) -Senator Beagle is fresh on the minds of Southwest Ohio voters following his routing of Tipp City Councilwoman Dee Gillis in one of the most competitive races of the 2014 Election Cycle. Solid name recognition and a track record of success in Columbus makes for a competitive candidate. (Announced his candidacy on 9/29)
Former Congressman Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek)-As you are not required by law to live within the boundaries of the Congressional District which you represent, Congressman Steve Austria is a familiar name in the region who has never lost an election during his time as an elected official. He would certainly thicken the plot.
State Representative Tim Derickson (R-Hanover Twp.)-Term limited from the Ohio House in 2016, Rep. Dericksen told reporters that he is seriously considering a run for the seat.
Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds (R-Liberty Township)–Filed a the paperwork to create a fundraising committee on 9/30.
J.D. Winteregg-Speaker Boehner’s primary opponent in 2014 has already announced his intent to seek the seat.
Gary Cates (R-Westchester)– Former State Senator Gary Cates is a a potential challenger for the seat. He has strong name identification having served the people of Butler County in the legislature from 1995-2011.
Eric Gurr (R-Middletown)-Announced his candidacy on 10/5. Mr. Gurr most recently ran against Speaker Boehner in the 2014 primary.
So far no Democrats have emerged as candidates for the seat, although two prominent Democrats in the region have already declined.