The special primary election of 2021 has arrived, and today is the final day for eligible voters within the 15th Congressional District to cast their votes in the race for a new U.S. representative.
As previously reported, Fayette County Board of Elections Director Karla Morrison explained that the 15th District within the county is “the lower part of Fayette County.” It includes all of Concord/Green township, Jasper township split two, all of Perry township, Union township South West split two and all of Wayne township.
The 15th Congressional District includes Clinton, Fairfield, Hocking, Madison, Morgan, Perry, Pickaway and Vinton counties, as well as portions of Athens, Fayette, Franklin and Ross counties.
The 10th Congressional District makes up the remaining portion of Fayette County. Voters who reside within the 10th District are not eligible to vote in this special primary election.
Back in May, Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) stepped down from his U.S Representative seat to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Since then a number of individuals — both Republican and Democrat — have announced their run for the position to represent the district in Congress.
On the official Democrat Primary Ballot there are two candidates: Greg Betts and Allison Russo. On the official Republican Primary Ballot there are 12 candidates with one having withdrawn: John Adams, Mike Carey, Eric M. Clark, Thad Cooperrider, Ruth Edmonds, Ron Hood, Thomas Hwang, Stephanie Kunze, Jeff LaRe, Bob Peterson, Omar Tarazi and Brian Stewart, who has withdrawn.
The winners of the Democratic primary and the Republican primary will move on to face off in the November election.
According to the board of elections website, five polling locations within the 15th district will be open today for voters from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Those locations are:
—Green Township Hall (0012 Concord/Green precinct), located at 6905 Stafford Road S.W.
—Jasper Township House (0013 Jasper precinct), located at 7790 State Route 729 N.W.
—Mahan Building (0024 Union S/W precinct), located at 213 Fairview
—Perry Township Grange Hall (0021 Perry precinct), located at 9861 Washington New Martinsburg Road
—Wayne Town Hall (0025 Wayne precinct), located at 7218 State Route 753 S.E.
As of Sunday evening, 118 early votes in Fayette County had been cast out of 3,028 eligible voters — 104 in-office and 14 by mail. Early voting continued through Monday afternoon.
Sample ballots of candidates running on each party ballot can be seen on the BOE website, www.boe.ohio.gov/fayette/.
State Senator Bob Peterson, a Fayette County native, currently represents Ohio Senate District 17. Peterson’s campaign has focused on his farming background and his service in the Statehouse where he’s been either in the Ohio House or Senate since 2011.
The powerful Ohio Right to Life PAC, the political arm of the state’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group, has endorsed him.
Trump, who twice won the state by wide margins, has touted candidate Mike Carey as the best choice to succeed Stivers.
Stivers, himself a National Guard major general, is supporting first-term state Rep. Jeff LaRe, a former deputy sheriff and security services company executive, to represent Ohio’s 15th district. LaRe is running on a pro-law enforcement platform that includes tough talk on border control, immigration policy and the need to continue to tackle the opioid crisis and a pledge to keep Ohioans safe.
LaRe is among one former and three sitting state lawmakers running in the Republican primary, the others being state Sens. Stephanie Kunze and Peterson and former state Rep. Ron Hood.
On the Democratic side, state Rep. Allison Russo, a health policy expert, faces Greg Betts, a former Army officer and decorated combat veteran, for the party’s nomination.
Kunze has the backing of the GOP in the district’s largest county, Franklin, and of the Value In Electing Women PAC founded to elect Republican women to Congress.
“Ohio hasn’t had one Republican woman in its congressional delegation in nearly a decade,” its executive director, Julie Conway, said. “Stephanie Kunze is not only the right person to represent the 15th district, but she’ll be a principled conservative and a powerful advocate for the needs of all constituents.”
Hood, meanwhile, has snagged the endorsement of a key Trump ally: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. In a tweet, Paul called Hood “a proven constitutional conservative who will stand for the entire Bill of Rights and for an America First foreign policy.”
If that were not enough to divide the district’s Trump-supporting base, another Trump ally, conservative activist Debbie Meadows, wife of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, has backed Ruth Edmonds in the Republican race. Edmonds is on the advisory board to Ohio’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Meadows’ Right Women PAC said Edmonds, who is Black, “will be a powerful voice in Congress, countering the growing BLM/Marxist movement.” It said Edmonds’ “life experiences, her Biblical worldview, and her Christian faith have uniquely prepared her to stand up against the race-baiting bullies of the radical Left.”
Influential New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, who founded Elevate PAC, formed to promote female Republican candidates, opted against backing Edmonds or Kunze — sticking instead with Trump’s man, Carey.
In a statement, Stefanik, who now chairs the House Republican Conference, said she was standing by Trump’s pick because “to defeat the socialist Democrat agenda and fire Nancy Pelosi in 2022, we need more proven conservative fighters in the House Republican Conference.”
For his part, the first-time candidate Carey hasn’t campaigned on being “a proven fighter,” but on Trump’s twice-winning label of “outsider.” He has never held elective office, but has lobbied the state Legislature.
Carey represented a company named in an indictment of a former House speaker and others allegedly involved in an elaborate bribery and dirty tricks scheme to pass a sweeping piece of energy legislation, House Bill 6. That firm, Murray Energy, is cited as “Company B” in the federal indictment. The company has not been accused of any crimes.
Other Republican candidates include: John Adams, owner of a chemical business; Eric M. Clark, a nurse at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; former Perry County Commissioner Thad Cooperrider; golf club owner Thomas Hwang; and attorney Omar Tarazi, a member of the Hilliard City Council.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.