Incumbent Butler County state lawmakers get Ohio GOP endorsement

Three Hamilton Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination this May for the From left, Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, Greg Jolivette and Sara Carruthers.
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Three Hamilton Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination this May for the From left, Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, Greg Jolivette and Sara Carruthers.

There are now two Republican-endorsed candidates running for the 51st Ohio House District seat.

Butler County GOP last month endorsed Hamilton philanthropist Sara Carruthers, and just this week the Ohio Republican Party endorsed incumbent Rep. Wes Retherford. Former state lawmaker and former Butler County commissioner Greg Jolivette did not seek the county party's endorsement, and Retherford said he never asked for the endorsement even though he went through the screening process.

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This is the third time the Butler County GOP has not endorsed Retherford, most famously in 2016 when the county party supported former state lawmaker Courtney Combs over the Hamilton Republican.

“I’m honored that Speaker (Cliff) Rosenberger supports my re-election bid and added my name to the list of House Members to be endorsed by the ORP,” said Retherford. “I believe that the most important endorsement is that of the people. I believe at the end of this election they will see that my legislative record shows I am the only candidate with a common sense conservative record. I look forward to talking about the issues with them.”

Carruthers said the state party’s endorsement amounts to a status quo endorsement.

“You can have someone that works for Columbus and the status quo, or someone who works for the people of this area,” she said. “Columbus is nice, but it’s not my home and I want to work for the people in my home. I don’t owe anyone anything, so I will vote with my heart for what’s best here.”

Jolivette called the endorsement “a sad commentary” on the state GOP for not taking a closer look at the various races around Ohio.

“To endorse someone who did not receive any qualifications of recommendations from the screening committee of the local party, and is also on probation just shows they don’t take their endorsement very seriously,” he said.

Jolivette referenced how the Butler County GOP gave Retherford a “not recommended.” . He also referenced Retherford’s OVI conviction where he was sentenced to two years of non-reporting probation.

“The optics of endorsing Wes Retherford … just shows the recommendation should not be taken very seriously,” Jolivette said.

Retherford exclusively told the Journal-News last month he's made "drastic changes" in his life, and hasn't had a drink since his March 12 arrest for drunken driving.

The Ohio Republican Party endorsed the 46 incumbent Ohio House members seeking election or re-election, including Butler County’s other state lawmakers, Reps. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and George Lang, R-West Chester Twp. The state party also endorsed Warren County’s Ohio lawmakers, Reps. Paul Zeltwanger, R-Mason, and Scott Lipps, R-Franklin.

The winner of the Republican primary of the 51st Ohio House District will face Democrat Susan Vaughn, of Hamilton, in November. The 51st Ohio House District includes the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield, Ross Township, and portions of Fairfield, Hanover and St. Clair townships.

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