Local Republican lawmakers trade accusations of ‘political ambition,’ ‘strange insult’

Miamisburg Rep. Niraj Antani blames Oakwood Rep. Jim Butler for launching primary challenge against him in effort to win Senate seat in 2020.

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, is accusing State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, of lining up another Republican to run against Antani in the May primary in an effort to clear his path for a state Senate run.

“I would hope that his unbridled potlitical ambition isn’t causing him to run a primary opponent against another Republican,” said Antani. “In a year that is traditionally bad for the party that controls the White House — that’s us — we should be focused on beating the Democrats and retaining our majorities instead of ripping other Republicans down.”

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Butler called that “a very strange insult coming from someone who has held political jobs his entire adult life and tells everyone he cannot wait to become governor.”

“I did not recruit either of Niraj Antani’s primary opponents,” Butler said. “I think that it is too bad that Niraj Antani apparently thinks that the voters should not have a choice in the May primary election.”

Antani believes Butler is behind the decision by Miamisburg Vice Mayor Sarah Clark, to file petitions Wednesday to run in the 42nd House seat Antani has held since he was picked by the Montgomery County Republican Party in 2014 to run for the seat after the death of Rep. Terry Blair, R-Washington Twp. Antani had no primary opponent in 2016.

Antani called it it is “unfortunate” that Butler has contributed to the non-profit Commonsense Solutions for Ohio headed by Clark, who is in her ninth year on Miamisburg City Council.

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Clark, executive director of the conservative advocacy group, said Butler contributed $12,5oo in seed money to get it started and she made the decision to run against Antani on her own.

“This is political paranoia on the part of Niraj Antani,” said Clark. ” I think he is planning to run for Senate in two years and I think that he thinks that Jim is also planning to run for Senate in two years.”

Butler confirmed that in 2020 he plans to seek the Senate seat now held by term-limited State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering. Antani said he is focused on the house race.

Marcus Rech of Miamisburg also filed in the 42nd district Republican primary. Miamisburg residents Zach Dickerson and Autumn J. Kerns filed to run in the Democratic primary, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

The 42nd district includes Moraine, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Germantown and part of Centerville, and Washington, Miami and German townships.

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Butler has no primary opposition in the 41st district, which includes Kettering, Oakwood and parts of Centerville, Dayton and Riverside. He will face Dayton School Board member John McManus, a Democrat, in November.

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Other local statehouse races shaping up

Republican incumbents hold all but one of the Dayton region’s 16 House seats.

The only Democrat is Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, who faces a 39th district Democratic primary challenge from Walter J. Hickman Jr. of Dayton. No Republican filed in the race.

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The 39th district includes most of the city of Dayton and Jefferson Twp.

Two Democrats and one Republican filed for the 40th District to replace term-limited State Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton.

They include Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, who also is chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, and Democrats Albert Griggs Jr., of Huber Heights and Ryan Taylor of Dayton.

RELATED: Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer to run for Ohio House

The 40th district includes Huber Heights, Vandalia, Englewood and parts of Dayton, Riverside, Union and Butler and Clay townships

In the 43rd district race Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, is unchallenged in the Democratic primary. Republican voters will choose between Clayton Councilman Kenny Henning and Jeffrey Todd Smith of Germantown.

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The 43rd district includes Trotwood, part of Dayton, Clayton, Brookville, New Lebanon and Harrison, Jackson and Perry townships, and all of Preble County.

Greene County

In Greene County State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, is being challenged by Jocelyn Smith of Fairborn in the Republican primary for the 73rd district. The winner would face Democrat Kim McCarthy of Xenia.

The 73rd district includes Beavercreek, Fairborn, Yellow Springs, Bellbrook and surrounding western Greene County townships.

State Rep. Bill Dean, R-Xenia is unopposed in the 74th district primary and in November will face the winner of a Democratic primary pitting Anne Gorman of Plain City against Steve W. Key of Wilberforce.

The 74th district includes Xenia, Cedarville and all of eastern Greene County as well as northeastern Clark County and all of Madison County

Miami County

A crowded field of Republicans will vie in the primary for the chance to challenge write-in Democrat Scott R. Zimmerman of Troy for the seat now held by State. Rep. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, who is running for Ohio Senate.

The Republican primary includes Miami County Commissioner John W. “Bud” O’Brien of Troy, J.D. Winteregg, a Troy man who previously ran for Congress, Jena Powell of Arcanum and George H. Lovett of Tipp City.

The 80th district includes all of Miami County and southern Darke County.

Warren County

In Warren County, State Rep. Paul Zeltwanger, R-Mason, will face Democrat Nikki Foster of Mason in November in the 54th. State Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, faces Daniel Kroger of Springboro in the 62nd district Republican Party primary. The winner would compete against Democrat Jim Staton of Springboro in November.

Candidates won’t know if they actually make the May 8 primary ballot until the local boards of election certify by Feb. 19 that they have at least 50 valid signatures of registered voters on their nominating petitions.

RELATED: Who is running for Congress locally? Field is taking shape

Republicans hold large majorities in both the Ohio House and the Senate but Democrats are fielding candidates in all 99 House races and hoping to ride a mid-term wave of voter dissatisfaction and regain some seats.

“I always think that recruitment is one of the best signs of a party’s chance to win more elections,” said Christopher Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton. “Candidates tend to not run if they think they’re going to be unable to win. So if you see all these Democrats running for office that would suggest to me that Democrats in general really think they have a better shot this year.”

Other stories by Lynn Hulsey

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