Meet Corey Foister, a 25-year-old cancer survivor running for Congress

On June 7, Foister and Miami County businessman and former Army Ranger Warren Davidson will square off — along with Green Party candidate Jim Condit, Jr. — in a special election to see who will serve the district’s more than 723,000 constituents in Washington, D.C.

The special election is to determine who will serve out the final months of the unexpired term of former House Speaker John Boehner. Davidson bested 14 other Republicans in the March 15 special and general primaries, while Foister and Condit were uncontested in their party elections.

This same matchup will happen again Nov. 8 when voters in the six-county district will decide who should fill the new two-year term, but whomever wins in June will have the advantage of being the incumbent in November’s general election.

Democrats are hopeful that in the first open congressional election in a quarter century voters in Butler, Clark, Darke, Mercer, Miami and Preble counties will chose a Democrat to represent them.

“Voters this June will have to decide whether they want someone serving them in Congress who represents Ohio middle class families or a puppet beholden to out-of-state dark money billionaires,” said Jocelyn Bucaro, executive chairwoman of the Butler County Democratic Party.

Local Democrat Marc Conter is also hopeful that someone will concentrate on the district, a district that’s been “intensely gerrymandered” in order to offer Boehner, and other Republicans, “protection at the polls from any serious opposition.”

Foister is a 25-year-old who is not deterred by his youth, citing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s youth as an inspiration that age can be irrelevant “in the age of the Internet.”

He asks the question why wait or procrastinate to try to make a difference in the world? Part of that could be because he’s a cancer survivor.

At 6 months old, Foister was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, which is a cancer that is found cells as they begin to grow. On average, children are diagnosed when they are between 1 and 2 years old.

Foister wants to address some of the same things many politicians want attack politically: the heroin epidemic, the job outlook, education, security (specifically cyber security). But mostly he wants to make sure that the divisiveness is driven from politics, or eliminate what he can. Compromise, he said, seems to be a negative for many in Washington, D.C., where Democrats only talk to Democrats and Republicans only talk to Republicans. He said he did admire Boehner for his attempts to work with President Barack Obama — and that attempt at compromise drew criticism from members of his party.

If he wins, Foister said he’d invite some of the Republicans that lost in the March 15 primary to talk about the district issues that need to be addressed.

“Donald Trump says ‘make America great again,’ but to me I already think America’s great. I say the one thing we can definitely do in politics right now is make America kinder again,” he said. “We need to talk to each other because we’re so divided, we’re so bitter and we’re so cynical.”

Foister began his political journey as a 14-year-old high school student where “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” was the catalyst to what has become his future. He written about politics since that point, and eventually earned a political science degree from Northern Kentucky University. He even made a promise to his grandfather before his death that he’d run for Congress one day.

He realizes his political resume, which includes a couple years on the Northern Kentucky University’s student government association, isn’t the strongest, but he’s not conceding special nor the general election to Davidson. He said while the 46-year-old Davidson has a lot more life experience, he said his opponent only has a couple years of actual political experience on the Concord Twp. Board of Trustees.

Foister’s strategy for now is a grassroots approach. He’s traveled to five of the six counties — he hasn’t made it out to Mercer County, which only about a quarter to a third is in the district — but continues to meet to people.

Foister decided to get in the race in August after hearing former President Jimmy Carter’s announcement this past August that cancer had spread to his brain. That really spoke to the congressional millennial hopeful.

“I really admire Jimmy Carter, and out of all the presidents he was the most humane,” said Foister. “People can judge how he was as a president, but as a human, I don’t think we ever had a better president when it comes to being a normal human being.”

One of the top priorities he sees that needs to be addressed, and there won’t be a short-term fix, is the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling that said money equals free speech and corporations are considered people.

“It’s scary that only a few really get to pick,” Foister said. “It’s sad that money really weights into it. There’s no chance anymore of a ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ story anymore because it’s all tied to money.”

But ironically, he realizes money will play a key role in his race against Davidson, whose campaign had raised roughly $500,000 for his congressional primary bid and had more than $1 million spent in support of his primary campaign. And more money is likely to be spent in the special and general elections as Davidson is expected to see more of that support than Foister.

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