On Tuesday, a relative handful of Ohio’s 8th Congressional District voters chose Warren Davidson as the person they wanted to succeed former House Speaker John Boehner in representing the six-county district in Congress.
Then two days later, the former Army Ranger met the other man who replaced Boehner — Wisconsin Republican and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Poetically, Davidson was the first person Ryan sworn into office since taking the speaker’s gavel from Boehner at the end of October.
Davidson will serve as this district’s congressman until the beginning of January, and according to the experts a re-election bid is pretty much a sure thing in what many see as one of the most conservative districts in the state. The district consists of all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami and Preble counties and the southernmost portion of Mercer County, and they all tend to vote Republican.
The work Davidson had done over the past 8½ months has put him “in a good position” to be re-elected to the seat in November, said Cedarville University political science professor Mark C. Smith. And it’s pretty much his seat to lose, said Miami University political science professor John Forren.
“The district has been reliably Republican and Davidson has established his outsider credentials, so it is unlikely that will change before November,” Smith said.
And Forren agrees.
“Warren Davidson will again enjoy a clear advantage in terms of the overall partisan balance in the 8th District — and beyond that, he’ll also have the added advantage of running as an incumbent,” he said. “Yet the overall dynamics of that November race will almost certainly be different than the one that concluded (Tuesday).”
People believe the “real” race for the congressional seat was the GOP primary where Davidson bested 14 other Republicans. And in the weeks after Boehner announced his resignation, there were about a half dozen to a dozen other names thrown out as possible contenders for the seat.
More than 167,000 ballots were collectively cast in the Republican, Democratic and Green party March primaries, and 100,000-plus more Republicans participated than in the Democratic and Green parties combined.
By contrast, in Tuesday’s special election less than 6 percent of the 8th District voters participated. Just more than 28,000 out of the 471,000-plus congressional district registered voters cast a ballot on Tuesday, or in the 28-day early voting period prior.
The money also spent told the story on which election was more important.
Campaigns for this June special election spent little money, instead vying to attend town halls and candidate forums. Davidson’s campaign spent just more than $58,000, according to his pre-general special election campaign finance report. No money was spent by Democrat Corey Foister or Green Party candidate Jim Condit, Jr., according to the Federal Elections Commission.
It was a very different story in March where hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent by campaigns in the Republican special and general primaries, and more than $1 million was spent in support of Davidson’s campaign by the political arm of the Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth. Foister and Condit, Jr. were unopposed.
That Republican money was spent on campaign flyers and mailers, yard signs, and television and radio commercials, asking GOP constituents for their vote in the Republican primary.
And while voters got a bit of a campaign material reprieve for the June special election, they won’t be so lucky in November — but it’s unlikely they’ll get received a ton of campaign materials from the 8th Congressional District candidates.
It will be concerning the bigger political picture, said Forren.
“Voters this fall will be inundated with press coverage throughout the fall — not only about the presidential race but on the national battle for control of Congress as well,” he said. “The parties, campaigns and interest groups will spend enormous amounts of money on advertising — especially in Ohio, given its competitive Senate race and its swing-state status at the presidential level.”
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