Senate President Pro Tempore Chris Widener — the second-ranking senator in the Ohio Senate — has endorsed Rep. Tim Derickson for Congress.
This is the second major development for the Hanover Twp. Republican in the 15-candidate primary race to replace former Speaker John Boehner, who resigned at the end of October ending a 25-year congressional career.
In December, Butler County auditor Roger Reynolds, who many considered a front-runner for the seat, withdrew from the race, setting the stage for Derickson to be the top Butler County candidate.
Widener, a Springfield Republican, said that Derickson “is the kind of leader we need in Congress” and that he will “take Ohio’s message of balanced budgets and job creation to Washington.”
Widener said “a major factor” in his decision to support Derickson over any other candidate, including his Senate colleague Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, is he’s familiar with Clark County, including earning an associate’s degree in agriculture business at Clark State Community College.
“He’s got the confidences with many of the county leaders,” Widener said, “and that’s very important for people in Springfield and Clark County.”
He said his support for Derickson is by no means a snub for any other candidate in the race, especially Beagle, a man he calls a friend, colleague and “a longtime supporter of him.”
However, Widener said there’s a certain comfort level with Derickson’s vision and viewpoints he is campaigning on, and will be taking an active role in the campaign including knocking on doors and “helping in every aspect of the campaign.”
Derickson said landing Widener’s endorsement “is pretty humbling.”
“He’s an experienced and respected guy, not only as a senator, but some of the subject matter he’s focused on, namely workforce development,” said Derickson. “He and I have found ourselves talking on that subject for quite some time.”
University of Dayton political science professor Dan Birdsong said with so many candidates in this race, “a little support can go a long way.”
“The endorsement can be significant because it allows Derickson to reach potential new voters and sources of money,” he said. “But it’s difficult to say who it will hurt the most.”
Endorsements are generally not as influential on voters as some may believe, said Miami University Hamilton political science professor John Forren. And though the Widener endorsement is likely not a game changer, he said the candidate it likely impacts the most is Beagle, Derickson’s fellow legislator.
“It’s certainly important in that it’s another indication that the Republican leadership is coalescing in support of Rep. Derickson,” Forren said.
Derickson won’t say this endorsement makes him the favorite to win because “there are 15 of us in this thing, so you just never know. Ultimately the voters will decide, but I do want to let the voters know I will represent them in Washington, D.C.”
But Widener is not the only Clark County Republican to endorse Derickson.
Former State Rep. Ross McGregor, Clark County Auditor John Federer and Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson have also expressed their support for Derickson.
These current and former office holders will serve on Derickson’s Clark County leadership team.
Ohio’s 8th Congressional District has 723,000-plus residents in six counties (Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble and the southernmost part of Mercer counties). Clark County is the district’s second-largest county. Butler County, which is Derickson’s home county, is the district’s largest county.