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On Tuesday, the Ohio primaries will be held. The only GOP primary races of interest involve congressional seats and there are only four at that where there is any competition. Let’s leave the best for last- the 8th district represented by John Boehner.
The Ninth District is held by Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur. This northern Ohio district anchored in Toledo is the strongest Democratic district in the state and likely not winnable. Still, there are two Republicans vying to take her on- Richard May and Robert Harrocks. In all probability, neither will unseat Kaptur so the endorsement is by default to Robert Harrocks since it is damn well near impossible to get any information on May.
Republican David Joyce was elected in 2012 in the 14th District located in the northeastern corner of the state near the Pennsylvania border. In the overall sense, it is a nominally Republican district (Cook PVI +4 Republican) although I rate it slightly lower and, thus, more vulnerable. Joyce faces Matthew Lynch in the primary. He is trying to portray Joyce as a liberal Republican. The fact is that there is little to go on. At best, he can be described as a moderate in the Boehner mold. The problem is twofold. First, this is probably as good as it can get for the GOP in this district without risking the seat. Secondly, his opponent- Matthew Lynch- is somewhat suspect. A cursory view of his website is classic conservative talking points which is all well and good until he starts to attack the celebration of Halloween. Do we really need Halloween to be a campaign subject?
The primary in this district is the classic conundrum of the Buckley rule: vote for the most electable conservative. In this case, the most electable candidate may not be conservative while the most conservative candidate may not be electable. In such cases, err on the side of the incumbent and this writer begrudgingly endorses David Joyce and keeps his fingers crossed.
In the 15th District, GOP incumbent Steven Stivers, first elected in 2010 in the Republican congressional wave of that year, faces a primary challenger in Charles Chope who failed to garner enough signatures in 2008, and lost in both 2010 and 2012 in the GOP primary. At least he is honest; he likes politics and dislikes Stivers. Still, Stivers will likely face a better candidate than he did in 2012 in Scott Wharton.
The knock on Stivers is that he is not conservative enough. However, Govtrack.us places him certainly not on the extreme conservative edge of the ideological spectrum, but neither is he a moderate. Likewise, Ontheissues.org also places him in that middle area, perhaps rank-and-file status. Even still, based on bill sponsorship or co-sponsorship, he is rated the third most conservative of the Ohio delegation behind only Bill Johnson and Robert Latta. Given the fact that this is a Cook +6 Republican district centered in a college town and state capital- Columbus- one would have to say Stivers is doing quite well. Therefore, this writer would endorse Steve Stivers in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.
Finally, John Boehner in the 8th District presents an interesting case. Of Ohio’s 12 Republican members of the House, he is the least conservative. Some of this may be due to his leadership in the House as Speaker. One has to believe that if relieved of those duties, he may show behavior more endearing to conservatives. I just don’t know and kind of doubt it. Still, this is a fairly reliable GOP district located in the southwestern corner of the state. Cook rates it Republican +15, one of the strongest GOP districts in Ohio.
He faces three challengers in the primary- Tea Party activist and endorsed Matthew Ashworth, teacher and Tea Party activist J.D. Winteregg, and computer consultant Eric Gurr. Even Gurr’s website gives a nod to the Tea Party and acknowledges that their philosophy and principles should guide the Republican Party. John Boehner is the face of the “establishment” Republicans in the House.
But, let us not mince words here. Political reality dictates that by virtue of his incumbency and war chest, Boehner will prevail. This district has been in Republican hands since the days of FDR. Since being elected in 1990, Boehner has never garnered less than 61% of the vote and twice ran unopposed. This time out, perhaps smelling blood, the Democrats have four people in their primary with college professor Tom Poetter the most likely candidate. Another in the mix is former candidate Mort Meier.
Realizing this, there is no downside to endorsing someone other than Boehner in this race. I have personally tried to give Boehner some leeway by taking into account his House leadership position. But, at times I am under the impression that he is deliberately trying to sabotage the chances of the GOP. The roll-out of a House immigration reform bill package of principles was unnecessary given the fact the GOP has the Democrats on the mat over Obamacare. Why bring up immigration reform which ranks around #6 on the list of priorities to Americans? It does not even rank highly on the list of priorities for Hispanics. Then he had to backtrack and take it off the agenda when commonsense political strategy prevailed. And there have been other instances of political malfeasance.
Therefore, I would endorse the candidacy of Eric Gurr who would be the best replacement in this conservative district. I fully realize that Boehner will win the primary and trounce his opponent again in the general election. What I fear is another two years of John Boehner as House Speaker. No matter how one analyzes it and from whatever angle, he has been a failure in that role. If we cannot unseat Boehner in a primary election, the next best thing is to unseat him from his position as House Speaker and hand the gavel to someone willing to actually lead.