In Ohio, the second congressional district has been gerrymandered to be reliably Republican. It combines a sliver of Cincinnati, where I live, with large rural counties in southern Ohio, stretching over 100 miles away. No matter who wins the Democratic Primary, Brad Wenstrup, the Republican incumbent and Tea Party favorite, will probably win reelection. However, there is reason for hope: this has been a strange election cycle.
There are three declared candidates in the Democratic Primary: Russ Hurley, Ronny Harrison Richards, William Smith.
Truck driver William Smith has represented the Democrats in this race before. In 2012, he won the primary despite having no discernible campaign. (How did this happen?) He seemed to be base his appeal on common sense, but he didn’t seem to have any. After being nominated, Smith continued to not campaign, with the predictable result in the general election. In 2014, Smith declared again, and came in a close third in the Democratic Primary with almost a quarter of the votes, despite not actually doing anything to campaign. Again this year, he is not campaigning. Apparently, he just likes to see his name on the ballot.
Ronny Harrison Richards also participated in the 2014 primary, coming in second, beating the invisible Smith by less than a percentage point. He seems to me to be a traditional liberal Democrat, showing strong support for unions, for women’s equality, and for protecting the environment. If he wins the nomination, the Democrats, presenting essentially the same familiar message, will loose again.
The only candidate with a reasonable hope of taking advantage of the shake up that seems to be going on in this crazy election cycle is Russ Hurley. I say this for one simple reason: his top priority is legalizing marijuana. If last year’s ballot initiative legalizing marijuana had not been such as blatant money making scheme, it probably would have passed. Ohioans, even the conservative rural voters of southern Ohio, are ready to end the prohibition of marijuana, and a candidate who makes this a cornerstone of his campaign is likely to attract a lot of attention.
So I am joining Willi Nelson and the TeaPot Party in enthusiastically endorsing Russ Hurley for Congress.