The Republican primary for the 73rd House district is the region’s most contentious race, with explosive allegations and an extortion complaint overshadowing the candidates’ positions on the issues.
State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, and challenger Jocelyn Smith of Fairborn face off in the May 8 primary; the winner will run in November against Democrat Kim McCarthy of Sugarcreek Twp., who has no primary opponent.
Smith has accused Perales of forcefully kissing, choking and fondling her in 2015. She has filed no charges against him and said she continued communicating and meeting with him for several months that year because she wanted to achieve several political objectives.
Perales, who is married, denies Smith’s allegations, saying he had no intimate physical contact with her. He does say they had a brief, “inappropriate” consensual relationship in which he sent sexually-oriented texts and she sent topless photos. Smith denies sending him topless photos.
In early April, Perales filed a complaint with Fairborn Police against Smith alleging extortion after Smith held a news conference March 27 and threatened to release more texts and other documentation of her allegations if Perales did not resign from his House seat and withdraw from the Republican primary race. Smith last week released additional sexually explicit texts to this newspaper.
Madison County Prosecutor Stephen J. Pronai has agreed to serve as special prosecutor and will review the case once the police department completes its investigation, said Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller. He said the matter was referred to Madison County to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Perales once served as a county commissioner in Greene County and has represented a portion of the county in the Ohio House since 2013.
“I’m not scared of this bogus charge that he’s trying to pull,” Smith said Wednesday. “You can’t extort someone for their seat.”
Smith also criticized Fairborn Police and prosecutors for not informing her of how the investigation is progressing and sees that as proof they are not taking Perales’ complaint seriously.
Fairborn Police Chief Terry Barlow and Pronai could not be reached for comment.
Perales said he will not step down from his seat and he is “unequivocally” in the race to stay.
CANDIDATES ON THE ISSUES
Here is a look at the two Republican candidates who are competing in the heavily Republican district.
Perales said his focus has been and will continue to be Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Perales is chairman of the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) Task Force, which is looking at ways to protect both Wright-Patt and the Springfield Air National Guard Base during the next round of base realignments.
“The key to this BRAC mission is to be ready, to be prepared,” Perales said. “We need a person/office that wakes up every morning thinking about what we need to do to enhance the military mission in Ohio.”
Perales said he sponsored a bill to create the Ohio Aerospace and Engineering Technology Committee to look at planning for the aircraft of the future, with an eye toward landing an aircraft manufacturing plant.
“If we don’t start training our kids today for that, (then) Boeing and Airbus won’t even look at us,” Perales said.
As chairman of the Higher Education Committee, Perales said he has led efforts to refine the College Credit Plus program that allows high school students to get college credits. He said a four-year degree isn’t always the best option for every student, but that the state needs to control public college costs by imposing tuition caps and having colleges find ways to trim costs, like outsourcing parking.
He also said the state needs to make greater use of two-year institutions and trade schools to train people needed for the jobs available now and in the future.
Although he has supported the state’s legislature’s tax cuts, Perales said lawmakers may have “over-reached,” and should hold off on any tax cuts for now, in part because of the state’s infrastructure needs. “There may be a time where we have to tag a penny onto gas prices,” he said, adding that he supports a proposal to earmark half of the state’s surplus to maintain and repair local roads.
Perales opposed expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act and says spending money providing health care to the 685,000 low income Ohio residents covered under the expansion deprives schools and infrastructure of funding. He wants to freeze the expansion but continue to allow people on drugs to use it to get help. And he would impose work requirements and drug testing for Medicaid recipients.
He sponsored a House-approved anti-counterfeiting bill that he says will give local prosecutors more tools to use against drug dealers.
Perales said he opposes abortion but believes that when a mother’s life is at risk the decision on abortion should be made by the woman and her doctor.
He said he is comfortable with current restrictions on semi-automatic weapons but wants the background check system to be more efficient. Schools can be made safer with security enhancements such as cameras and lock-down systems, according to Perales.
He also wants the state to adopt a registry listing people convicted of assaulting children, which would work like the sex offender registry.
Smith has made her allegations against Perales central to her campaign and said he is not fit to be a state representative.
Her other issues involve the size of government, taxes and how the state spends taxpayer dollars.
At her news conference in March, Smith said the government “has grown too big, too unresponsive and bloated with people who practice politics for a living.” She said a “government that governs least, governs best” and that the Bill of Rights “are natural rights given to us by our Creator.”
Smith wants to introduce a “Tax-Limitation Balanced Budget Amendment” that would require a super-majority to increase taxes.
“The problem isn’t that government doesn’t raise enough taxes, the problem is the government spends too much!” Smith said in her answers to the Dayton Daily News Voter Guide.
She called for eliminating the Commercial Activities Tax businesses pay on gross receipts — a tax that generated nearly $1.8 billion in fiscal year 2017, according to Gary Gudmundson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Taxation. Smith could not say how she would replace that revenue, but said she would work with other legislators on the problem.
Infrastructure repairs could be paid for by issuing public and private bonds, she said. She also wants to reform the worker compensation system so that it is less costly for businesses.
On education she wants greater regulation of charter schools, an expansion of the voucher program so more parents are eligible and the elimination of Common Core educational standards. Common Core is a unified system of standards aimed at improving student performance.
According to her Voter Guide answers, Smith advocates the death penalty for drug traffickers, and “boot camp” for drug addicts and treatment programs — providing they don’t “overly-coddle people who, after all, got themselves into this mess,” she wrote. She also said the law needs to be changed so doctors are not afraid to prescribe pain killers to people who need them.
She opposed the Medicaid expansion, according to her Voter Guide answers, and she opposes abortion rights.
“I will fight hard to shut down every Planned Parenthood in Ohio,” Smith said.
On guns, she said she would vote against any legislation limiting the right to “keep and bear arms.”
“I believe unconditionally in the Second Amendment and constitutional carry,” Smith said in her Voter Guide answers. “I am a gun owner. I believe in standing-your-ground laws. I believe in concealed-carry laws.”
In a speech to a class at Wright State University last month a student asked Smith if she supports a ban on automatic rifles. Smith said she does not support banning any weapons or limiting the size of firearm magazines.
But, she said, “There needs to be longer police training. In four months you’re releasing somebody with a gun.” She added: “Cops are trigger happy.”
MORE TEXT MESSAGES RELEASED
Last week Smith released screenshots and photographs of additional texts she said she exchanged with Perales. Other texts had earlier been provided to the newspaper by both Smith and Perales.
The texts contain talk of a sexual nature by the person Smith says is Perales, make reference to photos being sent by Smith and of efforts for the two to meet up. There is no way to independently verify that the texts were sent by Perales or Smith, nor do they contain any reference to choking or definitive evidence of anything other than sexting.
One text provided by Smith that she says is from Perales said “Ur lips were awesome.”
“I showed proof that Perales lied about having physical contact with me,” Smith said, declining to comment on texts that call into question her account of the relationship.
“I’m trying to spare the embarrassment of his family but I want the truth out,” Smith said. “The truth needs to be told that he did in fact kiss me….And when he kissed me he grabbed my throat.”
Perales declined to comment on specific texts, saying Smith’s goal has been to ruin and embarrass him to help her get elected.
“My opponent has chosen to double-down on her ever-changing tabloid television accusations,” Perales said. “To respond directly to such allegations as my opponent trickles them out would allow my opponent to distract me from my work for my constituents. It would also permit my opponent to dodge any in-depth discussion of actual issues of substance relevant to the people of the 73rd District.”
MORE ON THE CANDIDATES
Education: Bachelor’s in building construction from Auburn University; master’s in international relations from Troy State University
Employment: State Representative, retired U.S. Air Force civil engineer officer
Political experience: Ohio House of Representatives since 2013; former Greene County Commissioner, former Beavercreek council member
Political party: Republican
Education: Bachelor’s degree in nursing from Ohio University; master’s in nursing from Jacksonville University; associates in applied sciences degree practical nurse to registered nurse transition technology from Clark State Community College; practical nursing graduate from Fortis College
Employment: Registered nurse case manager at Sheakley UniComp and part time instructor at Fortis College.
Political experience: None
Political party: Republican
Here are all our stories about the allegations involving Smith and Perales:
Here are all our stories about the allegations involving Smith and Perales: