State senator announces run for Ohio’s 2nd District, but doesn’t live there

Local GOP chairman says Antani “missing in action” in district

State Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, announced Tuesday he is running for U.S. Congress to replace retiring Rep. Brad Wenstrup.

Antani said while running for Congress he will continue serving in his Senate district representing Dayton and southern Montgomery County suburbs including Kettering and Centerville until his term expires in 2024. Antani lives in Miami Twp., not in Wenstrup’s Ohio 2nd District, which represents Clinton and Clermont counties and the southern tip of Ohio.

Members of Congress are not required to live in their district, though members of the Ohio Senate are. Antani said he lives “just 17 miles” from the 2nd District and will move should he win.

“Having been born and raised right here in southern Ohio, I will be a conservative warrior in Congress and fight against Joe Biden’s disastrous policies,” Antani said in a release announcing his run.

“In Congress, I will have a steel-spine in standing for life, our 2nd Amendment rights, and for pro-growth economic policies. As a fiercely pro-Trump Republican, I will work hard every day for our community in Congress to ensure every Ohioan has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” he said.

Antani’s decision to run for the Ohio 2nd means he will not seek reelection in 2024.

Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman state Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Dayton, said Tuesday he would prefer if Antani would resign his Senate seat and let the party pick a replacement who could run as an incumbent.

“He’s clearly never had a job so he’s got to keep this paycheck, so I couldn’t imagine him resigning. We just hope that he does his current job and works for the people that voted for him,” Plummer said. “We haven’t seen him for three years in Montgomery County.”

Plummer criticized his fellow Republican as “missing in action,” saying Antani doesn’t attend meetings in the district.

“It’s interesting that he’s going to leave our community and go to a community that doesn’t know him; that’s a bold move,” Plummer said. “He’s ambitious. I always say, ‘Do the job you signed up to do. Do what you told the people you’re gonna do.’ And like I said, we haven’t seen him. So, good luck to him.”

Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Mohamed Al-Hamdani expressed concern that Antani won’t be able to pay proper attention to representing local interests in the Ohio Senate while running for a U.S. House seat multiple counties away.

“That’s what we deserve, and I hope he takes that into consideration and actually steps down and lets his party replace him until the election happens,” Al-Hamdani said.

His Senate district now leans heavily Democratic after recent redistricting. Antani noted in his announcement that the Ohio 2nd District’s partisan voter index leans significantly Republican. The Republican primary will be March 19.

Democrats lining up to run for Antani’s Senate seat include state Rep. Willis Blackshear Jr., D-Dayton; Kettering City Councilwoman Jyl Hall; and Dayton Board of Education Member Jocelyn Rhynard, according to records from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Plummer said Republicans are working to identify a strong candidate for the race.

Antani is the first Indian American state senator in Ohio history, and the youngest currently serving member of the Senate. He was elected to the Senate in 2020. Prior to that he served from 2014-2020 in the Ohio House district representing Miamisburg.

Antani’s release says he was the first member of the Ohio General Assembly to endorse Donald Trump in the 2024 election.