On Monday, State Senator Bob Peterson (R-Fayette County) answered a few questions from the Record-Herald during a phone interview about his history as he starts his campaign for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District seat.
As previously reported, Peterson announced last week that he will seek the Republican nomination for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, which will become vacant in May when U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) steps down from his seat to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Serving Ohio Senate District 17, Peterson represents Clinton, Fayette, Highland, Gallia, Jackson, Pike and Ross Counties and parts of Lawrence, Pickaway and Vinton Counties.
“I appreciate the opportunity (to share some thoughts with Fayette County),” Peterson said via phone on Monday morning. “It has been one of the great honors of my life to represent Fayette County and beyond as a state senator. I ran for (Fayette) county commissioner because, as a young parent with a growing family, I wanted to make sure my children and their generation have opportunities to live and succeed in Fayette County.”
After serving as Fayette County Commissioner, Peterson said in 2010 he ran for the legislature because, as a commissioner, he and his colleagues heard over and over that, “your taxes are too high,” or, “your regulations are too difficult,” and more.
“That is what Honda told us specifically, ‘you have a better site, but we are going to go to Indiana,’” Peterson said. “That was stuff I couldn’t control as a county commissioner, so I ran for the legislature and we addressed those things. We have lowered taxes, we have reduced regulations, we have improved our business climate so that jobs have grown — and they have grown dramatically in this state.”
Peterson explained that now that he and his wife are grandparents, he is thinking of the future for his grandchildren in the country.
“I look at what is happening in Washington D.C. with a budget out of control, spending bills that are allegedly infrastructure bills—but, depending on how you want to qualify it, only seven to 15 percent is infrastructure,” Peterson said. “We are burdening my granddaughter and her generation with an unsustainable debt. We have a national security and humanitarian crisis at our southern border. And it seems that all of the freedoms that are guaranteed under the United States Constitution are under attack right now.”
Reflecting on these issues, Peterson said he has the experience, background and desire to go make a difference. He said that in 1980 when he graduated from Miami Trace High School, running for office was never something he ever dreamed was possible.
“I think that is the beauty of America and our founding fathers—that a little farmboy from Fayette County could have the ability, with the blessing of the voters, to go to Washington D.C. and represent them and the other members of this great state,” Peterson said.
Peterson also said, for him, he never originally intended to run for office and as an eighth generation farmer with his brother John, he was happy with raising a family, raising his farm and passing it along to his own children someday.
“What is even more exciting for me than running for congress is that the 9th generation is starting on the farm this week,” Peterson said. “(Mine and my wife, Lisa’s, son) Todd, has two more finals to take, and at some point this summer he will finish his research and do a thesis, but he is planting corn right now. We have begun to welcome the 9th generation back to the farm. (Todd) has worked on a farm since he was a little boy — probably before he wanted to — but now, as we bring him back into the operation, I think to myself that is what every father and parent wants. That is even more exciting (to me) than announcing for congress.”
The state senator explained that this opportunity is something he wouldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams and he has the utmost respect for Stivers and his work over the years.
“I have a great appreciation for the work Steve Stivers has done,” Peterson said. “I have supported him in all of his campaigns. He and Karen are dear friends, and I am excited for what he will be able to do at the Ohio Chamber (Of Commerce). I look forward to working with him in that capacity. I never dreamed that this opportunity would be before us. I have talked to a friend, and I said that to him and he replied, ‘And that is why we like you, you didn’t see this, but all of us have seen this coming in some capacity for years. We have watched you grow and you have the skills and background experience and ability as well as humble roots to be very successful representing us in congress.’ And that was pretty cool. They told me they saw this coming and are expecting bigger things from me than I saw myself.”
Finally, Peterson said that the “entire Peterson team” is behind him.
“They are all helpful is so many ways,” Peterson said. “My brother — who has been my farming partner — and his wife, I wouldn’t have been able to serve as a county commissioner, as a Farm Bureau President of Ohio, as a state senator, without them doing the work and making sure the farm is operating successfully. I have the support of my family, and they are fully engaged. The district is a 12-county district and I am familiar with that as I represent 10 counties in the Ohio Senate. I represent about half of the district already. But to the Fayette County voters and residents, I thank them for opportunities that they have given me and that they have entrusted me to represent them at the county and state levels. They know me. I plan on taking those Fayette County values and work ethic as well as my love for the country to Washington D.C. and wherever life takes me.”
Also on Monday, Governor Mike DeWine announced special election dates for the 15th Congressional District to fill the District’s upcoming vacancy. The dates will be the same as the separate 11th Congressional District special election, with a partisan primary occurring on Aug. 3 and the general election on Nov. 2.
Stivers formally communicated with the governor his resignation effective May 16. This allows the governor to call the special election and issue a Writ of Election.
Important dates include:
May 17: Declaration of candidacies for partisan candidates must be filed with the Franklin County Board of Elections by 4 p.m.
June 1: The county board of elections must certify the names of the candidates that will appear on the special primary ballot
July 6: Eligible Ohioans who want to cast a ballot in the Special Congressional Primary Election must register to vote by this date
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 463-9684 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.