COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — After the stinging defeat of one of his endorsed congressional candidates in Texas last week, former President Donald Trump’s sway as a kingmaker among Republicans was validated in central Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, where his candidate Mike Carey won a hotly contested GOP primary on Tuesday.
Trump-endorsed coal lobbyist Carey will face Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo, a health policy consultant, on Nov. 2 — after Russo defeated Greg Betts, a former Army officer and decorated combat veteran, for their party’s nomination.
The congressional district has been reliably Republican for a decade, but Russo’s prospects against Carey are viewed as promising among Democrats after she did well among voters from her overlapping Ohio House district races twice in a row.
In Fayette County, State Senator Bob Peterson (District 17), a county native, received 58.64% of the vote in the Republican primary with 370 total. Carey received 151, Ron Hood tallied 36, Ruth Edmonds received 25, Jeff LaRe received 22, Thomas Hwang garnered 17, Stephanie Kunze and Omar Tarazi had three, John Adams received two votes, and Eric M. Clark and Thad Cooperrider had one apiece.
In the Democratic primary in Fayette County, Allison Russo received 29 votes and Greg Betts received six.
Carey topped a formidable field of 11 GOP primary contenders for the seat vacated by Republican Steve Stivers in May, even fending off Stivers’ own pick, state Rep. Jeff LaRe, and three other experienced current or ex-lawmakers.
All of the candidates in the GOP primary billed themselves as conservatives and many boasted more legislative-branch experience than Carey.
State Sen. Stephanie Kunze has spent almost nine years in the Ohio House and Senate, championing legislation to tackle opiate addiction, infant mortality and sexual violence. She had won the endorsement of the GOP in the district’s largest county, Franklin, and of the Value In Electing Women PAC.
Sen. Bob Peterson has been a state lawmaker since 2012. A farmer and former president of the Ohio Farm Bureau, he was backed by the powerful political arm of Ohio Right to Life and former Senate President Larry Obhof.
As of press time Tuesday night, Peterson had the second-most amount of total votes in the 15th District with 4,824 to Carey’s 13,254 with 429 of 625 precincts counted.
Winners of the August primaries will face off in the Nov. 2 general election.
Voter turnout in Fayette County was low with 666 ballots cast out of 3,028 eligible voters in the 15th Congressional District. Five county precincts were part of the election on Tuesday.
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.