Tuesday’s primary in Ohio’s 8th District is a jumbled mess.
There are 17 — yes, 17 — vying to fill the seat that had been held from 1991 to 2015 by Republican John Boehner, the saloon keeper’s son from Reading who became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The 8th District, which has a population of about 725,000, is one of the most secure Republican bastions in the state. It encompasses West Chester, Fairfield and Hamilton in Butler County as well as all of Preble, Darke, Miami and Clark counties and the southern end of Mercer.
To lessen the confusion surrounding the race, if possible, here is some background on the candidates:
Matthew Ashworth, of Liberty Township, did not respond to several requests for comment about his candidacy. In a voters’ guide compiled by the Dayton Daily News, Ashworth said he has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Cincinnati and works for a company called DigitalUnderwriter.com. The company website says the firm works with mortgage providers.
Bill Beagle, 51, a Tipp City Republican, now represents the 5th District in the Ohio Senate for a term that expires in 2018. He is a financial analyst who owns the Hampton Group, which has about 60 apartments in Miami County. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Miami University and an MBA from Cleveland State.
Beagle has held the Senate seat since 2010, when he beat an incumbent Democrat in a district that had been held by the Democrats for more than 20 years, according to his campaign website.
He says government finance is a top priority issue in his campaign.
“I’m concerned about spending, debt levels, interest on the debt and tax rates and I would try to put together a responsible budget with a lot of people that aren’t used to being told, ‘No’,” Beagle said.
Other critical issues from Beagle’s perspective are national security, border security and immigration. Beagle said he wouldn’t rule out building the Trump-proposed wall between Mexico and the U.S. although he said there might be technologies available that could provide adequate security so that a wall would not have to be built.
Jim Condit Jr., 63, lives outside the district in White Oak and has a degree in history and languages from Xavier University. He said he works as a salesman and consultant in the telecommunications industry for several companies.
His primary reason for running, he said, is to attract support for the right-to-life issue that he champions.
Condit, running as a Green Party candidate, said that he ran against Boehner in 2010, 2012 and 2014 because “I thought running against Boehner would get more national attention.” The margin in 2012 was somewhat humbling: 246,378 votes for Boehner; 1,938 for Condit.
Condit also said he ran unsuccessfully four times for Cincinnati City Council from 1979 to 1987.
Warren Davidson, 46, of Concord Township outside of Troy, is the managing director of Integral Manufacturing, which has two plants in Troy and one in Fairfield. He said the business, which traces its roots back to West Troy Tool & Machine and was founded by his father, Earl, in 1987, has about 200 employees today.
The company makes metal stampings, many of which are used in the automotive industry.
Davidson joined the Army after high school and is a former Army Ranger who served in the 101st Airborne Division. He then received an appointment to West Point, where he studied American history and mechanical engineering.
Davidson ran unsuccessfully for township trustee more than 10 years ago and then wound up being appointed to the post for two years in 2004-05.
“The single biggest issue is growing the economy,” said Davidson, who noted that his company has grown from 20 employees to about 200 in three buildings and that “Obama didn’t help us build any one of them.”
Creating jobs, wage growth and balancing the budget are all linked to growing the economy, Davidson said.
He said national security and “calling attention to the bad deal with Iran” could be combined to represent his second priority in the race.
Tim Derickson, 55, who lives in Hanover Township in Butler County, is in his fourth two-year term as State Representative for Ohio’s 53rd District and must step down at the end of the year because of term limits. He has an associate’s degree from Clark College and a bachelor of science in business administration and management from Miami University.
Before being elected to the State House, Derickson had served as a Hanover Township Trustee for nine years.
Derickson chairs the Ohio House committee on Community and Family Advancement and said the committee deals with two issues that would be at the top of his agenda in Washington.
“Number one is workforce development — helping folks get off of public assistance and into sustainable jobs,” Derickson said.
“Keeping God in the public square” is another critical issue for Derickson. Allowing organizations that have a “faith component” to use public schools for a meeting is an example of how this issue might come into play in Ohio, Derickson said. He said he co-sponsored legislation that cleared the way for faith-based organizations to use some public buildings.
Other candidates have raised questions about the amount of money that has flowed to Derickson from outside the district.
He has received a pledge of $450,000 from the conservative Right Way Initiative in Washington, which said it would spend the money for radio and TV ads in the district. The Credit Union National Association also has contributed $200,000 to his campaign.
“With both of those contributions, I knew nothing about them until after the fact, and I knew nothing about their PACs (Political Action Committees),” said Derickson, stressing that he’s new to running for a federal office. He also said that he is grateful for support from both organizations.
Corey Foister, 25, of Fairfield, the only Democrat in the race, believes that he might be the second youngest candidate in the country who is running for Congress this year.
Foister graduated from Northern Kentucky University last year and majored in political science. He created and runs a political website called Next Generation America.
He said coverage of the 2004 presidential race on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart ignited his interest in politics.
“When you run for office, there’s a whole other door you go through — a whole other world out there,” Foister said about the difference between studying political science and actually running for political office.
Clean energy was identified by Foister as the most important issue in the campaign.
“If the world is unlivable, it doesn’t make any difference if there’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House,” said Foister who wants to see America increase its use of solar and wind energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.
He also said he wants to see more of an emphasis on rebuilding the country’s infrastructure and mentioned issues like the need to rebuild the Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River and the water supply system in Flint, Mich.
Scott George, 48, who lives in Monroe Township on the outskirts of Tipp City, said he was prepared to challenge Boehner in mid-August of last year, about a month before the House Speaker announced he would step down.
This is the first political campaign for George, who is a human resources, learning and development consultant after working for Procter & Gamble and its Iams pet food brand for 20 years. P&G sold Iams about two years ago.
“There was a lot of frustration (in the district) because their voices were not being heard in Washington and there were a lot of empty promises,” George said when asked why he wanted to challenge Boehner.
He identified border security as a top priority.
“It has both a social and an economic impact because about 90-95 of the heroin that’s coming here is coming across the border from Mexico. This would stop the Mexican gangs and the illegal immigrants from coming here.” He said tighter security also would decrease the “strain” on social service and health care systems.
George said a second key issue is improving the economy by repealing the “job-killing” Dodd-Frank Act, federal legislation that was adopted in 2010 in response to the financial crisis of 2008. One impact of the bill is to limit the ability of small banks to make loans to small businesses that need money to grow, George said.
George also was critical of the substantial contributions that have been made to some of the other candidates in the race.
“Politics has turned into a business where money buys elections,” said George, who acknowledged that there is nothing illegal about the money that has been flowing into the race.
Eric Haemmerle, 43 of West Chester Township, did not respond to several requests to answer questions about the race. In a Dayton Daily News election guide, Haemmerle said he has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Cincinnati as well as a bachelor’s in social studies education from Northern Kentucky University and a master’s in education from Xavier. He said he teaches American government and American history at Great Oaks Career Development Center.
Terri King, 56, who lives just outside of Middletown in Madison Township, is an attorney who has run for office unsuccessfully three times — twice for juvenile court judge and once for state representative.
King said she was an assistant Butler County prosecutor for 10 years, a Butler County juvenile court magistrate for three years and has been in private practice since 2001. She has an undergraduate degree from Miami University and her law degree from the University of Dayton.
Although she said she was asked by Republicans to run for juvenile court judge in 2010, she said Republicans “don’t like me” because people in power don’t want to relinquish that control and that much of party politics is based on “cronyism.”
In a written response to a question from the Dayton Daily News, King said, in part: “We need to build fences on both our borders, and all immigration stopped for 50 years. Only those being persecuted for religious or political purposes should be allowed in,” she told the newspaper.
She reiterated that position in an interview Wednesday and said she was particularly concerned about Canada’s new “liberal prime minister,” Justin Trudeau, and his country’s plan to accept thousands of immigrants from Syria.
When asked about her top priority issue in the campaign, King said she’s alarmed because “the America I grew up with doesn’t exist anymore …. We’re losing our right to religious freedom and free speech. We’re losing the America that was great.”
Joseph J. Matvey, 54, of West Chester, who holds two undergraduate degrees from Youngstown State, is a first-time candidate. He is a CPA who works as the senior director for internal audit and process systems for JSW Steel USA, a company based in India that has its U.S. headquarters in Baytown, Texas. Matvey said he works from his home and travels extensively for the company.
“If you break it down, the most important issue for me is fiscal responsibility of the government,” said Matvey, who characterized himself as a “strong fiscal conservative” and emphasized that the country can’t continue to borrow $450 to $500 billion every year without creating huge financial problems for the next generation and adding to a national debt that runs into the trillions of dollars.
Matvey’s campaign website identifies the threat of terrorism and his support for gun ownership as two of the other critical issues facing the country.
Matvey said he decided to run after learning that Boehner was stepping down.
“I looked at this as an opportunity to make a difference,” said Matvey, adding that he thought five to eight people might file to succeed the former Speaker. But with 17 people in the race it’s become a “free for all,” Matvey said.
Edward Meer, 39, of West Chester, attended Cincinnati State but withdrew from school to join the Navy and served for six years. He has worked for the last year as a press operator for a company called ID Images in Fairfield. The company makes labels.
“You see all the stuff going on (in Washington) with veterans not being taken care of and you get the feeling that they’re just goofing off all the time, and it seems like no one really has a plan,” Meer said when asked why he filed to run.
He identified “the budget and the deficit” as his No. 1 issue for the 8th District.
“It’s totally out of control and no one is doing anything about it,” said Meer, who described himself as the only “working class candidate” in the race.
“In 6 to 10 years we’re not going to be able to pay our debts (and one of the creditors will say), ‘OK — you can’t pay your debt, so we’ll just take Alaska’,” Meer said.
Meer said one of the low points in his life was about five years ago, when he fell behind in his apartment rent and was evicted. He said he spent a couple of weeks living in his van before his girlfriend said he could move in with her. He said she is a Democrat who is now acting as his campaign manager.
John Robbins, 77, of Monroe, retired from Armco Steel in 1988 after 31 years and then went to work as the plumbing inspector for Butler County until he retired from that job in 2006. He said he ran once unsuccessfully for school board in the 1960s.
“I saw that the seat was open, and that’s a rarity when it happens, and I thought I could interject some practical ideas that would help solve some of the problems,” Robbins said when asked why he entered the race.
He said his No. 1 issue is “excessive government regulations. They regulate business and industry to a point where they give up and move overseas.”
Balancing the budget would be a second priority because the budget is “upside-down and no individual or country can sustain that for a long period of time.”
Michael Smith, 44, who lives in Germantown, which he said is in the 10th District, said he has never run for office before. Smith served in the Army for three years and said he is the state chair for the Veterans Party of America.
The party website says it supports candidates who will restore America to be “Strong, Fair, Just. We believe in Liberty, Justice and Freedom.”
Smith said he decided to run in the 8th District after Boehner announced plans to step down.
“I saw there was going to be a special election, so I thought this was a great opportunity to get involved,” he said.
Smith, who attended the University of Maryland but did not graduate, said he is a licensed loan officer who quit his job with Citizens Bank in Cincinnati so he could devote all of his time to running for the seat in Congress.
“The most important issue is having real representation in Congress — someone who actually listens to the people of the district. We will never fix any of the problems by electing the same old people,” Smith said.
The issue that’s No. 2 on his agenda is ending the practice of lobbying in Washington.
“Congress has an 11 percent approval rating, and I think a lot of the legislation is being written by lobbyists who then hand it to (members of Congress) for a rubber stamp,” he said.
Jim Spurlino, 52, lives in Washington Township, which is outside of the district, while his business address is inside the 8th. He said he founded Spurlino Materials in 2000. He has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Dayton.
Spurlino said he’s concerned because “a ton of outside money” has been contributed to several candidates in the race.
“Securing our borders is just part of the greater issue of national security,” said Spurlino, who said the heroin crisis in the U.S. is being fueled by drug traffickers from Mexico.
Growing the economy also is critical, he said.
“We’ve had a recovery without any serious economic growth. Nobody believes it (that there’s been a recovery),” he said.
Kevin White, of New Carlisle, retired in 2013 from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1987 after beginning his studies at Texas A&M and Ohio State. He has more than 26 years of military service.
He is a pilot for United Airlines as well as a flight instructor and is rated to fly the Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320, two of the airline industry’s mainstay passenger planes. White and his wife, Rose, also own Homestead Feed & Supply in New Carlisle.
“This race comes down to money versus message. This is going to be one of the most expensive Ohio primaries in history,” said White, who has raised questions about the influx of money from outside of the district to several of the other 8th District candidates.
White identifies the federal budget and the tax code as the top priorities he would address as a member of Congress.
“I’m the only candidate with a three-year detailed plan,” said White, who is running for office for the first time.
His three-year plan, as outlined on his website, calls for: “Across-the-board cuts in federal spending by 1 percent (approximately $36 billion), freeze expenditures for successive 2 years, reduce tax brackets from 7-4, cut personal income tax rates, cut corporate income tax rates, expand the tax base, cap schedule 'A' deductions to 30,000, simplify the tax code and abolish AMT (alternative minimum tax). During this three-year time frame contemplate additional major tax reform initiatives such as 'Fair Tax' and other proposals.”
J.D. Winteregg, 34, of Troy, taught for 10 years and now works at Rudy Inc., in Covington, a commercial grain elevator operation that also provides marketing and merchandising services. He has a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and master’s degrees from Wright State and Ohio State.
Besides teaching at the high school level, Winteregg also taught part-time at Cedarville University, a Baptist college in Greene County, until he produced a spoof of a Cialis commercial two years ago when he ran against Boehner in the Republican primary.
The ad, which ran on the Internet, suggested that he could be the cure to “electile dysfunction” if voters chose him over Boehner in the primary.
Winteregg wound up losing by a 71 percent to 22 percent margin— and also lost his job at Cedarville.
For the current election cycle, Winteregg was the first candidate to file, and he made that decision before Boehner announced that he would not run again.
“I stood up to Boehner when it wasn’t easy. All of the other candidates waited until Boehner resigned to get in the race. This is just political opportunism,” Winteregg said.
Winteregg said the race has drawn plenty of national attention and outside money because the seat had been held by the former Speaker of the House. He said winning the seat could prove to be a valuable “trophy” to the Club for Growth, for example, the Washington, organization that has contributed $1 million to Davidson.
“My No. 1 priority in Congress is undoing the Obama agenda as quickly as possible,” Winteregg said both in an interview and on his website
Next on his website’s list of priorities is immigration.
“We need to secure our borders and enforce the laws that we have on the books. I am 100 percent opposed to amnesty, and I believe that Congress needs to stipulate that they will not fund President Obama's illegal executive action mandates on immigration,” Winteregg’s website says.
George Wooley, 61, of Troy, has a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from the University of Texas at El Paso and now manages a couple of apartments that he owns.
Wooley said he has worked all over the country and now focuses on teaming up with a small crew that rehabs apartments and also volunteers twice a week as a Christian counselor at the West Central Juvenile Detention Center in Troy.
“I’m a humble working guy and I hope that makes me stand out from the other candidates in the race,” Wooley said.
Wooley said his top priority is national security.
“No. 1 would be protecting America from terrorism. I think we’re at war that’s undeclared by us, but declared by the other side. They intend to kill us and a lot of them are Islamic,” said Wooley, who said he opposes immigration to the United States from countries that are clearly hostile to the U.S.
His second priority is what he described as “the big, general, overall category of restoring morality” in the country. He said every branch of government has “lost its way in understanding what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Wooley said he has no concerns about the infusion of money from outside sources into the 8th District race. He said he doesn’t believe there should be any restrictions on campaign contributions.
“This is America, and that’s fair game. I’ve gone to horse races, and you always want to bet on the favorites,” he said.