Fourteen of the 15 Republicans seeking the seat vacated by House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester, took the stage for a candidates forum at Miami University Hamilton’s Parrish Auditorium on March 7, but the three to the audience’s right seemed to do the most to separate themselves from the pack.
With the candidates seated in reverse alphabetical order, the three at the beginning of the alphabet — state Sen. Bill Beagle of Tipp City; Warren Davidson of Troy; and state Rep. Tim Derickson of Hanover Twp. — were the trio.
“This is a really consequential election,” Davidson said in his closing remarks. “I’m honored in this election to have drawn support from tons of people who want to change the status quo…. But I’m also honored to have drawn the opposition of those folks that want to preserve the status quo. By and large, those folks that are trying to preserve the status quo are backing the guy to my right, and the guy to my left.”
Beagle, sitting next to Davidson, said he hears the frustration of people who live in the district: “They’re frustrated, they’re angry, and they want someone in Washington that’s going to get something done.
“People are frustrated that by the time people get to Columbus or Washington, they’ve changed their ways,” Beagle added. “I’ve got a proven track record to support the deep conservative values that we believe in.”
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“There’s not a silver bullet to turn this economy around, and this nation around,” said Derickson, sitting on the other side of Davidson. “But about as close as I can get to that silver bullet is a job, a sustainable job — a job to help people off public assistance, off Medicaid, off TANF, off SNAP, enable them, encourage them, to be self-sufficient. We need that, they need that.”
More than 200 people attended the forum, co-sponsored by the Journal-News, WHIO and Miami University, in one of the final chances for the candidates to address voters. The candidates addressed an array of topics ranging from gun control and health care to taxes and immigration.
Matthew Ashworth of Liberty Twp. was the lone Republican seeking the seat, which pays $174,000 annually, who didn’t attend the forum.
J.D. Winteregg of Troy suggested voters should elect him, a Millennial who will represent the constituents and resist lobbyists’ persuasion, “and I’m the guy who can do that.”
“I think the campaign has kind of evolved into money versus message,” said Kevin White, a military veteran from New Carlisle. “I thought I could win support by championing the message, having command of the issues, and actually proposing concrete solutions.”
But the frontrunners in the race, he said, have been light on that, he said. “If you’re going to vote money, you’re not going to vote for one of us, you’re going to vote for what you see on television, you’re going to vote for 30-second sound bytes.”
Jim Spurlino of Washington Twp. touted his business experience and said he’s not a politician who will be swayed by outside interests.
Michael Smith of Germantown called Washington “a den of vipers and thieves.”
Smith said he will just be a messenger going to Washington, representing constituents. “The only way to bribe my vote is to come to this district and bribe all of you — that’s the only way they could ever bribe my vote.”
“I am a fiscal conservative who is concerned,” said Joseph Matvey of West Chester. “Our revenues right now are $450 billion to $500 billion less than expenditures on an annual basis. We have $19 trillion in debt. We need to balance our budget so that we can sustain Social Security, provide health care and defend our nation.”
Scott George of Troy said he was tired of the district’s constituents not being heard, “so I got into this race on Aug. 15, and I was going to challenge 25-year-incumbent Speaker of the House John Boehner. “I’m the only other person on this panel that can say that. If you’re tired of the status quo, I ask you to look past all the special-interest money, and look at the alternative candidates that are up here.”
Cox Media Group Ohio has created an 8th Congressional District voters’ guide to help citizens learn about each of the candidates.
The sprawling 8th Congressional district extends north from Butler County along the Ohio/Indiana border to Preble, Darke and southern Mercer County, and eastward to include Miami and Clark counties. The district has 723,000 residents.