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Outsider Candidate Claims Boehner’s Old Seat

Davidson likely to join House Freedom Caucus after anti-establishment support

The special election in former Speaker John Boehner's district was a good opportunity for a Club for Growth-backed candidate to pick up a seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The special election in former Speaker John Boehner's district was a good opportunity for a Club for Growth-backed candidate to pick up a seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Anti-establishment conservatives couldn’t get one of their own elected speaker of the House after John A. Boehner decided to call it quits, but they are on the cusp of taking over his western Ohio congressional district.  

That’s roughly the same lead from our deep-dive into the race, “Ohio 8: The Quiet Fight to Succeed Boehner,” in the Jan. 8 issue of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report . That story identified state Sen. Bill Beagle and state Rep. Tim Derickson as the early front-runners but also had businessman Warren Davidson and Jim Spurlino as candidates to watch.  

On Tuesday, Davidson prevailed with 33 percent followed by Derickson’s 24 percent, Beagle’s 20 percent, and Spurlino’s 7 percent.  

The special election was an excellent opportunity for the Club for Growth to win a seat. As we wrote at the beginning of the year, “the race looks like an attractive opportunity for outside groups to wield some influence. It’s essentially just one race to win (no runoff or competitive general election) in a district with two relatively inexpensive media markets, and the field lacks an incumbent or a heavyweight candidate.”  

That’s almost exactly what happened.  

The anti-tax group’s effort on behalf of Davidson was a significant factor. With the holidays and the presidential primary, the special election didn’t get a lot of attention, and the Club seemed to be the group which cared the most to spend the most (to the tune of $1 million).  

Davidson, who was also endorsed by House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan, seems likely to join the Freedom Caucus after he wins the special general election on June 7. He’s a West Point graduate and retired Army Ranger with a Notre Dame MBA who helped grow the Troy-based family business, Global Source Manufacturing, a tool builder, to 200 employees in the district.  

Beagle currently represents more of the congressional district in the Legislature than any of the others but was regarded as the mainstream conservative in the race, which is not much of an asset these days. Derickson claimed to be the consensus candidate of populous Butler County (even though he only represented part of it in the Legislature), but finished with just a 36-30 percent margin over Davidson.  

Clark County (including Springfield) was regarded as a battleground because neither legislator represented the territory. Davidson won the county with 37 percent compared to 23 percent for Beagle and 16 percent for Derickson.  

J.D. Winteregg challenged Boehner in the 2014 GOP primary, received some attention for his “electile dysfunction” video and received 23 percent. But Winteregg learned that his success had nothing to do with him personally. He finished in fifth place on Tuesday with 4 percent.

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