Keller cruises to win for 53rd Ohio House seat

11:01 p.m Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 Butler County
Community Pregnancy Center Executive Director Candice Keller walks through their new location under renovation at 3717 Roosevelt Blvd. in Middletown, Wednesday, June 1, 2016. The new facility will be open starting on June 27. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

It was said by a Miami University Regionals professor that the 53rd Ohio House race was one “worth watching on Election Night.”

Republican newcomer Candice Keller of Middletown cruised to a victory in her first run for the Ohio statehouse defeating her experienced Democratic challenger Suzi Rubin of Monroe to represent Ohio’s 53 House District.

With 91 of 95 precincts in, Keller received 65.3 percent of the vote to Rubin’s 34.7 percent, according to unofficial results from the Butler County Board of Elections. Keller lead the race throughout the evening as votes were counted.

This was Rubin’s fourth run for the legislative seat and she said this is her last run for the Statehouse.

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“I’m very happy and thankful that all of the hard work paid off,” Keller said. “I’m really excited. We put a lot of work into this race with the help of hundreds of volunteers. Now it’s time to go to work for the people of my district.”

Keller said Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger has notified her that she would be sworn-in on Nov. 16 to fill the vacated seat of former state Rep. Tim Derickson. The seat was open as Derickson could not seek another term due to term limits and he resigned from the house to take a new position.

Keller said she has spent the last several months since the March primary talking to local officials, business leaders and residents and has heard a lot of issues and concerns throughout one of the largest house districts in the state.

“I’m ready to go to work,” she said. “I’m really excited. Onward and upward.”

John Forren, the Miami political science professor, said Rubin was an experienced Democratic candidate running in a heavily Republican district with no incumbent running. “The traditional advantage an incumbent would have is gone,” he said. “It’s still an uphill battle, I would think.”

“It’s not going to be a win,” Rubin said. “We gave it all we had but it didn’t work out. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle and I wasn’t surprised or shocked (with the outcome).”

She said she met a lot of great people that she would not have met otherwise.

When asked about running for the seat in the next cycle, Rubin said, “this is it.”

While Rubin, who serves as Monroe’s vice mayor, was unopposed in the March Democratic primary in March, Keller decisively won a contested Republican primary despite not winning the party’s endorsement.

Keller, 57, and Rubin, 57, implemented a similar campaign strategy to win the legislative seat: knocking on as many doors and meeting as many people within the district. The district that stretches from Monroe and Middletown to Hanover Twp. and Oxford across the northern parts of Butler County.

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