By Jim Ellis
Dec. 17, 2019 — Interesting decisions await as candidate filing deadlines are approaching this week in Ohio (Dec. 18) and North Carolina (Dec. 20) for their respective March 17 and March 3 primaries.
The Ohio political situation, originally thought to be relatively mundane without a Senate campaign and little competition within the congressional delegation, may be changing.
In the 1st District, veteran Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), who lost this district in 2008 after first going to Congress in 1995 and then re-claiming the seat in 2010, again faces what will likely be a competitive re-election battle. In 2018, Chabot defeated Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval by a 51-47 percent count, despite the Democratic nominee spending over $4 million for his campaign. Expected to file for the Democrats this year are healthcare executive Kate Schroder and US Air Force Reserve officer Nikki Foster.
The new potential contest coming onto the political scene emanates from the Youngstown area as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren), who was an early presidential candidate but failed to generate any major attention, appears to be attracting strong opposition for the first time since he won his original congressional election in 2002.
Now reportedly moving toward challenging Rep. Ryan are former Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who fared poorly in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary, and ex-state Rep. Christina Hagan who scored over 40 percent of the vote against freshman Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River/Medina) in the last nomination campaign from the neighboring 16th District.
Though both women have the ability to attract people and resources to their political efforts, the 13th CD is reliably Democratic and Congressman Ryan would be tough to dislodge. President Trump fared better than most Republicans here in 2016, but still lost 44-51 percent. President Obama, in both 2008 and 2012, topped 62 percent and Rep. Ryan has averaged 67.8 percent of the vote over his nine-term congressional career.
Still, House members who run for president often have a difficult time in their next re-election effort, so it remains to be seen if a credible challenge against the veteran congressman could develop legs.
Several questions will be answered later this week in North Carolina and a great deal revolves around Rep. Mark Walker’s (R-Greensboro) political decisions. Like Rep. George Holding (R-Raleigh), who are both victims of the latest North Carolina court-ordered congressional redistricting, Walker has seen his present 6th District collapse to the point where a Republican cannot win.
Therefore, it is reported that he is still potentially looking to enter the Senate GOP primary against Sen. Thom Tillis or challenge Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) in the newly constructed, and heavily Republican, 13th District. Some Tar Heel State conservative political leaders are reportedly attempting to convince Walker to enter the open lieutenant governor’s race where he would expect to face former Rep. Renee Ellmers, among others. With the filing deadline scheduled for Friday, the time has come for Rep. Walker to make a decision.
For his part, it appears that Rep. Holding, who has already announced his retirement from the 2nd District, may attempt to return in 2022. The congressman has already filed a new committee with the Federal Election Commission for the next election cycle, largely in anticipation of North Carolina receiving a new seat in reapportionment, and possibly a second.
Waiting a cycle is also a possibility for Rep. Walker as not only will the congressional delegation’s size increase, but Sen. Richard Burr (R) has publicly stated that he will not seek re-election in 2022. Such a move would open a competitive statewide campaign three years from now.