Carruthers to continue to focus on district following primary loss

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers may not know what’s next for her after her House term ends in December, but she said whatever it is, it’ll be to better the district, county and the state.

Carruthers lost her bid for a fourth term in the Ohio Statehouse in last week’s primary, losing to pastor Diane Mullins 53.1% to 46.9%, according to unofficial final election results. Mullins will face pastor Vanessa Cummings, a Democrat from Oxford Twp., in November.

“I have nine months of work to complete,” said Carruthers. “I’ve got to make sure the district gets the money that it was promised.”

That includes funding for several Butler County organizations in Sub. House Bill 2, which passed with bipartisan support on Feb. 7. Money in this bill, a one-time funding bill, includes financial support for the Shuler-Benninghofen project, RiversEdge amphitheater and the Hamilton YWCA.

She’ll also push for funding for Hamilton projects in this summer’s biennial state capital budget bill.

“We’re going to try to get what we can,” Carruthers said.

Outside of funding for the district, she hopes her bill that increases fines for repeatedly selling tobacco products to minors passes the Ohio Senate. That bill, House Bill 258, overwhelmingly passed the House in January.

“It’s got to pass the Senate,” said Carruthers. “The Senate is where everything stops.”

She also hopes to reintroduce her domestic violence bill known as Aisha’s Law. For the past two general assemblies, the Ohio Senate has failed to give that bill a floor vote.

Over the past five-plus years, Carruthers says she worked to get $7 million in funding, including capital budget funds, to the district. She’s also worked on nearly 30 bills, eight of which have passed the Ohio House and two enrolled into law.

Carruthers has seen adversity in both her professional life, as well as her personal life, which she said includes divorce.

“I’m extremely strong, and partially that’s because I come from Hamilton stock. Look at Hamilton. People gave up on this town, I didn’t. We don’t lie down. We fight,” she said.

So for now, she has nine months to make her bills count and make sure the money promised to the district actually happens.

Though Carruthers said this loss is not devastating, adding “My job doesn’t define me,” she said it was a mean and dirty campaign. She plans to go forward with her lawsuit against Make Liberty Win, a political action committee behind a dark-money flyer that passed accusations off in a campaign mailer as litigated facts.

Mullins says she had no involvement in Make Liberty Win’s efforts — which some suggest is mainly tied to the fight over the Ohio House Speaker seat — and she would never approve an attack on someone’s children.

The mailer claimed Carruthers “took” a woman’s children ― the woman was a surrogate, according to facts both parties agreed to in court ― and “threw a single mother out of her house,” allegations, among others, that were never proven to be true in court. The plaintiff alleged she was promised a house via an oral contract.

Carruthers declined to comment on the specifics of the case, which never went to trial and was settled, dismissed and sealed in 2022 and there is a gag order in place.

Carruthers said she “fought hard” in this campaign, but she’s not dropping the lawsuit against Make Liberty Win because, “You don’t come after somebody’s family.”

Once her term ends, Carruthers said she doesn’t know what’s next.

“I’m not making any quick moves. I think God has a plan for all of us, my mother always taught me that,” she said. “I don’t know what’s next. I’m not dead by a long shot.”

But her immediate plans are to take her kids on spring break “and have a wonderful time.”

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