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Clermont County likely to determine Wenstrup's successor

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Rory Ryan

By Rory Ryan
The Highland County Press

With a dozen Republicans – including Highland County's Shane Wilkin – seeking to succeed current Second District Congressman Brad Wenstrup, a quick look at the district's population by county indicates that our neighbors to the southwest will likely determine the March 19 primary outcome.

With a U.S. Census 2021 estimate of 209,642 residents, Clermont County dwarfs all other Second District counties. The next closest in population is Ross County at 77,000. 

Granted, with so many primary candidates – at least for now – the March race is a veritable crapshoot.

In addition to Wilkin, other Republicans to file include: Niraj Antani, Kim Georgeton, Phil Heimlich, Matthew Henderson, Ron Hood, Tom Hwang, Larry Kidd, Derek Myers, Tim O'Hara, Charles Tassell, David Taylor and Shane Wilkin; and Democrats Samantha Meadows and Joe Wessels.

Former state representative and judge Danny Bubp flirted with running, then announced he was supporting O'Hara, who owns restaurants in Highland and Brown counties.

One may suspect that it's possible a candidate or two could drop out and support someone else, but with the primary less than three months away, it's not likely.

As far as any potential debates, that's probably not likely, either. One candidate – Myers – is clamoring for presidential-style debates. I wouldn't count on it.

Most serious candidates have aligned themselves with professionals who are experienced with running campaigns. Another candidate – Kidd – has hired Politics Counsel, led by veteran Republican strategist and attorney Mark R. Weaver. Weaver is one of the best.

Certainly, Wilkin will be tested more in this congressional race than in any other campaign. His previous runs for county commission, state representative and state senators were all foregone conclusions. This race is not.

According to former Clermont County GOP Chair Charles Tassell, Clermont's Republican Central Committee has endorsed David Taylor. 

A businessman from Amelia, Taylor runs Sardinia Ready Mix, Inc. He is a graduate of Amelia High School, Miami (Ohio) University and the University of Dayton School of Law. 

With his own party's endorsement, that should give Taylor a significant edge.

Like the vast majority of the 12 Republicans, Taylor is running as a pro-Trump candidate. A news release announcing his candidacy stated, "Like President Donald J. Trump, David J. Taylor is a political outsider and a businessman who is running to fight for hard-working Ohio families, not the special interests or the Columbus or D.C. establishment."

A notable exception to that campaign strategy is Heimlich, the anti-Trump candidate who supported Democrat Tim Ryan over Republican JD Vance for the U.S. Senate. Heimlich has the most name recognition of all the candidates.

Heimlich is a former assistant prosecutor in Hamilton County, a former Hamilton County commissioner and a former Cincinnati City Council member. He challenged Republican Congressman Warren Davidson in Ohio's Eighth District and lost two years ago. Heimlich did not live in that district, and he does not live in the Second District, nor does that disqualify
his candidacy. 

Depending on media outreach – especially from Cincinnati circles – name recognition will mean a lot. Candidates who ignore Cincinnati media requests do so at their own peril.

The 2024 primary may very well resemble a 1993 congressional race between former Republican congressmen Bob McEwen and Rob Portman. McEwen won four of the five counties in the district – Adams, Brown, Clermont and Warren. In Adams, once part of his district, he received 77 percent of the vote, 67 points ahead of Portman. 

Portman won only Hamilton County, but by a large enough margin to win the primary with 17,531 votes.

Clermont County voters should carry the day on March 19 as Hamilton County voters did in 1993.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County's only locally owned and operated newspaper.


Matthew (not verified)

28 December 2023

Thank you for the brief Congressional history lesson for this area's Representative change-over during the early 90's. I couldn't remember. What I do remember is that I voted when I was 17 years old in 1994. (I use fact to try to stump others who think they're savvy in the ways of all things political. I'm such a nerd.) I'll be out of town on the March 19th primary. I'm a traditionalist. I vote on the day of the primary or General election (Besides November 2002 when stationed in San Diego, CA.) Anyway, I'll look into the procedures for early voting or absentee before March. I hear Donald Trump is running again. I sure do miss a strong economy and a no-nonsense foreign policy.

Randall M (not verified)

28 December 2023

Let's see now, GDP for 2020 under Trump was a negative 2.2%, GDP expected in 2023 plus 2.4%. Last time I checked on this measurement being on the plus side was just a little preferred than the negative side.

Matthew (not verified)

28 December 2023

Was the GDP in 2020 affected by the progressive's mandated shutdowns and their random rules and restrictions?

RandallM (not verified)

29 December 2023

Matthew, I will give you that for the 2020 GDP. My real point is the talk of the great economy under Trump. Only one year of Trumps' presidency did the GDP surpass any year of Bidens' presidency. The average GDP under Biden is about 2.6% which is not bad at all, in fact pretty darn good. Perhaps the perception of the economy doesn't agree with the facts.

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