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Candidates Crowd Into Race to Claim John Boehner’s Seat

There are 16 candidates running to fill Boehner's open seat. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
There are 16 candidates running to fill Boehner's open seat. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The race is on for the open seat created earlier this year when Speaker John A. Boehner left Congress, and there are 16 Ohioans vying to fill that vacancy ahead of the March 15 primary.  

Potential candidates had until 4 p.m. Wednesday to file with Ohio’s boards of election to run for Congress in 2016. The special election for Boehner’s 8th  District seat is scheduled  June 7.  

GOP voters have no shortage of options: 14 Republicans have registered for the contest in reliably conservative Butler County. Newcomer Corey Foister is the lone Democrat giving it a go, and Robert Coogan is running as a Libertarian.  

The challengers who’ve at least held office before include Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, whom strategists keeping tabs on the open seat told Roll Call has inherited a few of Boehner’s former staffers, state Sen. Bill Beagle and state Rep. Tim Derickson.  

“None of these guys have ever had to run a real campaign,” one political operative suggested, estimating that Reynolds and Derickson may split the vote inside the county seat whereas Beagle might do well in the Dayton suburbs following the flood of TV ads that aired in that market during his 2014 re-election campaign.  

J.D. Winteregg, of “electile dysfunction” fame  from his 2014 challenge to Boehner, is back in the mix — though none of the operatives consulted expected him to gain much traction.  

They’re all about equal in the money game. Winteregg is reportedly sitting on the largest amount of cash on hand (approximately $5,400). That’s twice as much as Reynolds has in his war chest ($2,700). Neither Beagle nor Derickson have shared their financial picture with the Federal Election Commission.  

Democrats on the hunt for a rematch include: Fred Kundrata, who lost to Republican Rep. Steve Chabot by 26 points in 2014; Janet Garrett, who was swamped by 36 points in her loss to Rep. Jim Jordan last year; Michael Wager, who got about half of the support claimed by incumbent Rep. David Joyce last cycle; and Scott Wharton, who got beat 2-to-1 by Rep. Steve Stivers in 2014.  

Despite the big losses last time around, some Democrats think a polarizing Republican ticket could turn things around next year.  

“Everybody’s jumping in because if [Donald] Trump is at the top of the ticket, the map is suddenly a lot more competitive,” a Democrat operative said.  

Correction Dec. 17, 2:35 p.m. An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the results in Michael Wager’s race against Rep. David Joyce in 2013. Wager received about 30 percent of the vote.  


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