CINCINNATI – At least three Republicans are strongly considering a bid to fill John Boehner's congressional seat in Ohio's eighth congressional district while Democrats search for a candidate.
Federal and state law mandate that Boehner be replaced through a special primary and special election, not by the governor appointing a replacement. His seat will remain vacant from the time he leaves office until a winner is declared in the special election, according to Joshua Eck, spokesman for Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, a colorful figure with a penchant for grabbing headlines regarding immigration enforcement, drug busts and other hot-button issues, told WCPO's Jay Warren that he is seriously considering entering the race. He telegraphed his interest in a tweet this morning:
Hmmmmm.....weighing out my options... pic.twitter.com/mBiccsIa8y
— Richard K. Jones (@butlersheriff) September 25, 2015
"I will make my mind up within two to three weeks whether I am going to run for Sheriff or whether I'm going to run for Congress," he told Warren. "There's no one that will beat me in Butler County."
West Chester Trustee George Lang, a board member since 2003 and the current board president, said he'll take until the middle of next week to decide whether he'll run. Lang told WCPO that he wanted give the decision some serious thought and gauge the support of party leaders.
"There are a lot of moving pieces. I suspect there may be as many as a dozen (Republican) contenders," he said.
J.D. Winteregg, who was already trying to unseat Boehner in the Republican primary, confirmed that he will continue his campaign for the seat.
"It's going to be a lot of work. I fully expect tha the establishment will have a lot of people wanting to run, but I'll work hard to convince people that I'm a viable alternative."
Gary Cates, Ohio Board of Regents Senior Vice Chancellor and a former Republican state senator and state representative, was also mentioned as a possible contender but was traveling on state business in Toledo and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Boehner's planned retirement on Oct. 30 marks the first time the seat has been open in more than a generation. Boehner won the seat in 1990 and won reelection comfortably every two years. He defeated Rep. Buz Lukens in the Republican primary after Lukens was embroiled in a sex scandal involving an underage girl.
The district remains deeply conservative, but Butler County Democratic Chairwoman Jocelyn Bucaro said her party's candidate "will definitely be part of the conversation."
"We anticipate a very competitive campaign to succeed him in the House of Representatives," she said.
The U.S. Constitution requires that a vacant congressional seat be filled through a special election called by the governor. Eck said Ohio statute further requires that a special primary is held before the special election.
Gov. John Kasich will set the dates, but the special primary can't be held alongside the Nov. 3 general election because state law requires 45 days of early voting, which has already begun for the general election.
The most recent special congressional primary was held on Oct. 14, 2008, followed by a special election on Dec. 18, 2008, to replace Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Eck said.