Other Republicans rumored as possible candidates said they will not run. State Rep. Andrew Brenner of suburban Columbus told cleveland.com he will run instead for term-limited state Sen. Kris Jordan’s seat in 2018. J.D. Vance, the author of the acclaimed memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” who ruled out a U.S. Senate run earlier this year, told Buzzfeed News’ Henry Gomez that he’s “definitely not interested” in Tiberi’s seat.
And then there’s term-limited Gov. John Kasich, who’s no stranger to the 12th District: the Westerville Republican represented the district from 1983 until 2001. But Kasich, who seems to have his eye on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue these days, isn’t going to run for his old seat, according to spokesman Chris Schrimpf.
Other potential Republican candidates, including Jordan and state Rep. Mike Duffey, didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
The 12th District, which curves down from Mansfield to the northern suburbs of Columbus, then east to the Zanesville area, has been reliably Republican: Tiberi handily won re-election last year with 66 percent of the vote, and no Democrat has held the seat since Kasich upset Bob Shamansky 35 years ago.
But some pundits wonder if Democrats have a chance to be competitive in the special election to replace Tiberi, pointing to Jon Ossoff’s near-victory in a special election earlier this year for a GOP-held congressional seat in suburban Atlanta. Trump won Ohio’s 12th District last year with 53 percent of the vote, but the district didn’t swing right for him the way many other GOP-held districts in Ohio did compared to 2012.
So far, there’s been little sign of an Ossoff-style emergence from the three Democrats who have filed to run for Tiberi’s seat next year: Licking County businessman Ed Albertson, who lost to Tiberi last year; John Peters, a special education teacher in Newark; and Doug Wilson, a health-care professional from Mansfield.
Democratic Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor didn’t rule out the possibility of launching a campaign during an interview Thursday. “I haven’t had the time to think about it, honestly,” he said.
One potential Democratic candidate has already waved off a run: Newark City Councilman Jeremy Blake, who said Thursday he will run instead for the Ohio House in 2018 against Republican state Rep. Scott Ryan.
By Jeremy Pelzer
Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland