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Popcorn, peanuts: Second District race to replace Wenstrup a political circus

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Rory Ryan

By Rory Ryan
The Highland County Press

Have you heard that there's a March primary election to see who will succeed current Rep. Brad Wenstrup in Ohio's Second Congressional District?

If you are blissfully unaware of this political circus, count yourself among the fortunate ones. In this heavily Republican district, there have been as many as a dozen GOP contenders and a couple of Democrats who dared to enter the primary battle. 

With the election date (March 19) just less than two months away, we've been bombarded with non-paid political ads disguised as "news releases." Virtually every candidate and his cousin have been wearing out our business and my personal email account with their respective endorsements.

A few have even been so clueless they've emailed a "news release" to a newspaper to promote a television or radio ad. Here's a hint to you Wenstrup wannabes: Buy a damned ad or conveniently misplace my email address.

Now, back to the circus. This week, one Republican candidate was called out by a media outlet for allegedly seeking a previous seat as a Democrat. Three others have been called out by a different candidate as "carpetbaggers" for not living in the Second District. (They don't have to.)

Another Republican candidate is riding on the popularity of a 1976 song off the Eagles' "Hotel California" album. Another Republican candidate wants to remind voters that his initials are the same as former President Donald J. Trump. By the way, almost all the Republican candidates have endorsed Trump, except for the self-proclaimed anti-Trump candidate, who does not live in the Second District. (He doesn't have to.)

It's highly doubtful that this group will gather for any public debates. That's just too many microphones and too much hot air for one forum.

On the bright side, there are two or three candidates among the baker's dozen or so who, in my opinion, would serve the Second District well. I may expound on that prior to the March primary. 

* * *

Speaking of congressional candidates who do not live in the district for which they are seeking office, First Congressional District Republican candidate Orlando Sonza ( has my full endorsement for the southwest Ohio district.

The First District includes all of Cincinnati – which is heavily Democrat – and the eastern part of Hamilton County as well as Warren County to the north – which are less so. 

Sonza's address is within three miles of the district's border with the Eighth Congressional District, according to a report this week by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Former U.S. Sen. and former Second District Rep. Rob Portman has endorsed Sonza for Congress.

In his endorsement of Sonza, Portman said: 
“A U.S. Army veteran and prosecutor, Orlando Sonza has showcased his commitment to the principles of justice and servant leadership. I have full confidence that he will demonstrate the same level of statesmanship in Congress and will work to protect our shared values and ensure a brighter future for all. I am proud to endorse Orlando Sonza for Congress in Ohio’s First Congressional District.”

Following the endorsement, Sonza said, “I am humbled and honored to have the support and endorsement of Sen. Portman. Throughout his years serving our great state and Southwest Ohio, Senator Portman demonstrated high character, a strong ethical standard of governance, and a passion for finding solutions to complex policy issues.”

Now, the big questions are: 

• Who will Portman endorse in the Second District? 

• Who will Wenstrup endorse? 

• Will Trump even endorse?

Time will tell. Happy voting. And always remember, we get the government we deserve. Sometimes we even get it real good. Too good, in fact.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.

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