Springfield man running in special election needs only 1 vote to win

Early Voting hours at the Clark County Board of Elections Headquarters

8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Tuesday to Friday, Aug. 22 to Aug. 26 and Aug. 29 to Sept. 2

8 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Sept. 5 to Sept. 9

8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Sept. 10

1 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Sept. 11

8 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Sept. 12

By the numbers

$500,000: Estimated total cost for the 8th Congressional District special primary to be held on Sept. 13

$81,000: Cost for Clark County alone to hold the June special election to fill the seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. John Boehner’s retirement

1: Contestant on the Democratic special primary ballot

An unusual election next month will cost taxpayers $500,000 and all the winner needs is one vote — his own.

Early voting started Tuesday for the 8th Congressional District special election for a Democratic primary with one contestant. The election will be held on Sept. 13.

Steven Fought is a 62-year-old Mercer County native who recently moved to Springfield. A quirk in Ohio election law means polling places and precincts throughout the district are required to hold an election, even though Fought will be the only Democrat on the primary ballot.

State law mandates a special election is needed to replace a Congressional candidate — even if just one person is seeking the party’s re-nomination, Clark County Board of Elections Director Jason Baker said. The recent special election in June to fill the seat left vacant by former U.S. Rep. John Boehner cost about $81,000 for Clark County alone, Baker said.

“Regardless of how many are on the ballot, if you have an election, it’s a full-blown election and you move forward,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one, two or 50 candidates.”

Fought jumped into the race at the last minute and said he didn’t know at the time that a special primary would be needed.

He joined the race after Democrat Corey Foister, of Fairfield, unexpectedly dropped out of the race just months before the election. If Foister would have resigned just 18 days later, a candidate appointment could have been made as opposed to the need for the special election. But that wasn’t the case, Baker said.

One of his first moves once Fought established a residence in Clark County was to register to vote, allowing him to cast a ballot for himself. The special election also doesn’t allow write-in candidates, meaning Fought has no competition.

Fought will then face Republican Warren Davidson of Troy in one of the most reliably conservative districts in Ohio. Davidson emerged as the winner of a heavily-contested Republican primary earlier this year to take over the seat previously held by former U.S. Speaker John Boehner.

The district includes Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble and Butler counties and part of Mercer County.

“I’m under no illusions,” Fought said. “I can count. But at the same time that’s exactly the type of district where I can make the most impact and where I can at least force people to think about both sides of the issues and see what happens.”

Fought previously served as director of communications for the Ohio Department of Transportation, and later served as a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, of Toledo. He also served as a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown years ago when Brown was a member of Congress.

Fought said he didn’t realize the election would be so costly, but argued state lawmakers should have foreseen the scenario was plausible and adjusted the law accordingly. At the same time, he also argued voters should be able to have a choice in the fall.

“Politics are in turmoil in the United States,” Fought said. “People have lost faith in institutions and particularly in Congress and for good reason in a lot of cases.”

Some state lawmakers have already said they will introduce legislation to change the law so a similar problem doesn’t occur again.

Some voters like Jean Sutton, of Springfield, view the special election as a waste of time and money.

“No. 1, it’s costly,” Sutton said. “No. 2, it doesn’t make much sense. It’s a lot of money that could be put to better use.”