The congressional seat held by retired House Speaker John Boehner has likely been taken by an outsider candidate backed by some of the outsider groups that clashed with Boehner on many spending issues while he was Speaker.
One of the major small-government groups, the Club for Growth, backed Warren Davidson, a businessman from Troy in Ohio’s Miami County, who won the GOP primary for Boehner’s seat in Ohio’s 8th congressional district, reports The Enquirer.
Davidson will likely win the seat in the strongly pro-GOP district, when a special election is held June 7. Boehner quit the speakership last October.
Politico reported this week that Boehner’s name has scarcely been mentioned during the campaign to fill his vacant seat–one that featured 15 GOP candidates–a sign of the depth of anti-Washington sentiment during this election year. The former House Speaker represented his congressional district for nearly 25 years.
Mack Mariani, political science associate professor at Xavier University in Ohio, tweeted about the general voter feeling toward politicians:
Voters are so angry with politicians that we are one short step away from putting officeholders on a registry. https://t.co/SE0jZQOX8U
— Mack Mariani (@MackMariani) March 16, 2016
“You can divide the Republican electorate into two camps,” said former GOP Rep. Steve LaTourette, a Boehner supporter, who now chairs super PAC Defending Main Street. “Half are angry at him, and half are angry that he left.”
“Our data show he’s still popular in that district, so we’re not trying to distance our guy from him,” said Club for Growth president David McIntosh.
Davidson had tough competition from “insiders” state Rep. Tim Derickson and state Sen. Bill Beagle, but is not spiking his victory on that point.
“I get the symbolism,” he said. “But most people I talked to were just really hungry to have their own congressman.” He added that it was mostly President Barack Obama who made Boehner’s last years in office difficult.
Derickson pondered if his status as a current politician was a negative for him.
“I don’t want to believe that is true,” he told The Enquirer after conceding to Davidson. “Time will tell on that one.”
GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump visited the district on Sunday prior to the state primary and found voters who were fed up with political games.
“I’m fed up with all the crap that’s going on in Washington,” Joe Simendinger of West Chester Township said, adding that he voted for Davidson. “It’s time for a change and a big change. We don’t want the status quo in there.”
For his part, Boehner appeared to stay out of the primary completely.
“It was made clear John Boehner was not going to be involved,” Derickson said.
Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges said Boehner requested that the Party not endorse a chosen successor.
“He told us he wanted it to play out, let it run its course,” Borges said.
Boehner spoke at the Butler County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday–his first public appearance in his district since his resignation–but didn’t endorse a candidate, though he did give a show of support to GOP presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“He’s kind of like an ex-president,” Beagle said. “He’s just gone.”
“I think it’s symbolic,” said former GOP Rep. Dave Hobson, a moderate and longtime member of Congress from a neighboring district. “If the Club for Growth can replace Boehner, it’s kind of a stab in the heart” of the GOP establishment.
Davidson will now compete in a special election on June 7 and the general election in November, and is expected to win both in this highly Republican district.