NOTE: This story focuses on the Republicans running in the 10th Congressional district primary. To read about the three Democrats in the race, click here
Dayton-area Congressman Mike Turner is running for his ninth term in Congress this year, but he has to get through two Republican challengers first.
John Anderson, a longtime Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employee, and John Mitchel, an Air Force veteran and former defense support contractor are running against Turner.
VOTER GUIDE: Read the candidates in their own words
Turner says he deserves another term because his seniority in Congress gives him leverage in pushing for issues tied to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“From my senior position on the Armed Services Committee, I’m able to be the lead defender for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the missions that are there,” Turner said.
Turner says he plays offense and defense when it comes to base missions.
“There are constant opportunities for new missions to come to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that require my work to secure the mission, secure the facilities and funding for them,” he said. “There’s also constant pressure for missions to leave Wright-Patt.”
Anderson says Turner inflates his role at helping the base.
“Mike Turner was a very good mayor, but he’s been a lousy congressman. He’s done nothing in 16 years, as I can see. He brings nothing to the base,” he said.
Anderson says one congressman can’t bring jobs to the base.
“It’s not the way it works,” he said. “The reason why jobs come to the base is because they’re effective in what they do.”
Mitchel says Wright-Patterson would do fine without Turner.
“Wright-Patterson can take care of itself. I’d like to see Mr. Turner take on other issues, like the debt. Jump on the Trump agenda with immigration and trade, but he hasn’t done that,” he said.
Mitchel thinks the base is well-positioned if Secretary of Defense James Mattis institutes another round of the Base Realignment and Closure.
“If we had another BRAC, and it’s been 13 years since the last one, it would benefit Wright-Patterson,” Mitchel said.
Turner defended his work for the base and says he needs to stay in office to protect it.
“The threat in the future is that Wright-Patt is a single-service base,” he said.
He says leaders need to look at ways to diversify the base because joint-mission bases are “much more successful at being able to thwart competition.” Turner said the base needs to look beyond the Air Force and see ways we can grow Wright-Patterson with the “other service branches.”
Turner also says the base is not his only focus.
He says he works on “investments in manufacturing infrastructure and housing issues in the district.
“I’m very proud of the work I’ve done to bring senior veterans housing to the VA. We started a series of projects there that are going to transform that site back into a place where veterans can go and reside and get quality health care.”
Anderson is trying to establish himself as the “outsider candidate” in the mold of President Donald Trump. He even says he’d be “dangerous” if he was sent to Washington.
“I’d be an absolute terror down there,” Anderson said. “If they elected me as their congressman, I’d be a very dangerous person down there.”
Anderson says the government is “broken, it’s bankrupt, and it’s corrupt. And you can’t do it voting for the incumbent. Mike Turner will do nothing. He voted to raise the debt limit at least six times.”
If Turner wins re-election, “all I can do is lament and shed a tear from my country,” Anderson said.
Mitchel also criticized Turner over the debt and spending.
“We need a strong economy, we need a balanced budget, we need a strong defense,” Mitchel said.
Turner says that his experience in D.C. gets results for the Dayton region.
“I think people want a voice that can represent the whole community, and I have certainly done that. I think that’s how you fix Washington. You get people who are willing to work across the aisle, work on issues that actually have results and not just partisan bickering,” Turner said.
The race for Congress is generating more attention than past elections as local Democrats see their best chance in years to be competitive in the race for the 10th District seat.
However, since the district was redrawn in 2010 to include all of Montgomery and Greene counties and part of Fayette County, no Democrat has received more than 37 percent of the vote.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said this week she is confident Democrats can regain control of the House after the November election. Turner says that even if he goes from being in the majority to the minority, his work is the same.
Turner has been in the minority before when Democrats controlled the House from been there before when Democrats controlled the House from 2007-11.
“For my work for national security, for economic development, for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, not much changes,” Turner said. “It’s relationships, it’s advocating, it’s having the right solutions and pulling together a team.”
We asked the candidates what issues they would focus on if elected. Here’s some of their responses:
Anderson: The national debt is the biggest problem the nation faces and most agree it is the most serious national security threat. We have no choice but to reform the nation’s entitlement programs and the massive wasteful defense spending. We cannot keep spending more money and borrow from those generations not yet born. The nation has unfunded liabilities of over a hundred trillion. We cannot keep kicking the can down the road.
Mitchel: The economy: We need to coordinate taxes/trade/immigration and the regulatory environment. Your next congressman needs to get behind President Trump, who has us on the road to making our economy great again.
We need to move forward with the president’s agenda to build a strong economy and restore military readiness, but do it efficiently by spending on programs the Pentagon wants and needs after they have gone through a robust requirements definition process and then conduct source selections based on technical performance, quality, past performance and cost.
Turner: The three biggest issues facing our nation are national security, the economy and the opioid epidemic. The work done at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base plays a critical role in our keeping our country safe, which is why I continue to advocate for the missions at WPAFB. Since I’ve been in Congress, approximately 10,000 jobs have been added at Wright-Patt. In the past five years, local defense companies have seen a nearly 60 percent increase in Air Force contracts, which means even more jobs in our region. In addition, I have been fighting the opioid epidemic in Southwest Ohio since 2013 and have introduced legislation to increase prevention efforts and treatment options.
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