LOGAN, Ohio – A fast-paced area code for a congressional seat in central Ohio could speak volumes about the direction the Republican Party has headed since former President Donald Trump left office.
What you need to know
- Eleven Republicans are running to succeed Steve Stivers, who stepped down from Congress in May to head the Ohio Chamber of Commerce
- One front runner is supported by former President Donald Trump while the other is supported by Stivers
- Ohio’s 15th Congressional District stretches from the suburbs of Columbus to Athens County
- Some voters feel motivated by the endorsements, others do not
The early voting begins Wednesday in the primary race to succeed Republican Congressman Steve Stivers, who stepped down in May to head the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. The preselection will take place on August 3rd.
Trump gave confirmation in the race, which means that once he leaves office, the result will serve as a test of his political strength and calling.
The 15th Congressional District stretches from the southern suburbs of Columbus to east to Athens County. Trump flags are still waving as you drive through much of the rural parts of the area. But closer to Columbus, you’ll see signs from Black Lives Matter, support for LGBTQ pride, and calls for new district lines.
Eleven Republicans are hoping to succeed Stivers in a district he had in November with 63% of the vote, and Trump won with 56%.
Trump has supported the coal lobbyist Mike Carey, who never held an elected office.
“He’s a wonderful man. I’ve known him for a long time, Mike Carey, ”said Trump at his recent rally in Wellington.
Stivers supports State Representative Jeff LaRe, who also works in security and has a law enforcement background.
“Not only can Jeff win, he’s the right mindset to serve both the rural and suburban people,” Stivers said in an interview with Spectrum News.
Carey recently traveled to New York to meet with Trump and get his support. He said his campaign conducted polls showing Trump is more popular than Stivers in the district.
“With a Republican primary, I would much rather have the support of former President Donald Trump than that of the former Congressman,” Carey told Spectrum News in an interview at an event in Wilmington.
Despite serving as the state legislature for two years, LaRe positions himself more as a political outsider with an extensive résumé.
“I have legislative experience, but I’m not a professional politician,” LaRe told Spectrum News in an interview at an event in Logan. “My background in law enforcement and corporate governance really sets me apart from the rest of the industry.”
The way this district is drawn, a Republican is likely to win the November general election, so it’s worth paying more attention to the August primary.
With Stivers advocating one Republican and Trump another, that could be the deciding factor.
This area code is developing into a battle between two wings of the GOP: a “Trump Conservative” versus a “Mainstream Conservative,” as Stivers calls himself.
In rural communities like Wilmington and Ashville, voters said Trump’s support was important.
“I believe in this part of the world, yes. That part of the world – we’re big Trump supporters. Still, ”said John Chaney, who lives in Wilmington.
“That will help [Carey] enormous, ”added Anessia Turner, also from Wilmington.
In Ashville, Derek Bragg agreed that “this is where most voters are influenced, yes”.
But other voters said it was more about the individual candidates.
“It’s good to have these affirmations, but in the end who we vote for – it depends more on what they say, what they do and their track record, more than what anyone else I should be voting for is saying. “’Andre McDonald, who lives in Lancaster, said.
All of the major Republican candidates in the running said they were in favor of Trump’s policies, but there are some subtle differences in their approach.
LaRe reiterates Stivers’ longstanding call for courtesy in politics.
“I am by no means saying that you cannot stand up for your values and principles and what you believe in, but we need to be able to have this open dialogue, return to a constructive conversation,” said LaRe Spektrum News.
Carey, on the other hand, promises he will be like some of Trump’s biggest supporters on Capitol Hill.
“My voting list will look much more similar [Ohio Congressman] Jim Jordans, it’ll look like the former congressman’s [Stivers]”Said Carey.
A wildcard to consider is voter turnout, as the area code takes place in the middle of summer.
“I think a lot of Republicans just don’t know there are special elections,” said Jennifer Hiles, chairwoman of the Hocking County’s GOP, in an interview.
It’s a particular area code that could speak volumes about the direction of the GOP.
The August 3rd Republican primary winner will face one of two Democrats in November.
The eleven Republican candidates are Carey, LaRe, Bob Peterson, Ron Hood, Stephanie Kunze, John Adams, Ruth Edmonds, Thad Cooperrider, Tom Hwang, Omar Tarazi, and Eric Clark.
The two Democrats who are running are Allison Russo and Greg Betts.