Shared from the 8/22/2016 Dayton Daily News eEdition


Candidate: Election cost not his fault

One Democrat is on ballot in primary election. The price is $500k.


Steven Fought (left) is the one Democrat running in the 8th Congressional District.


He is expected to face U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy.




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The lone candidate in an expensive special primary election set for Sept. 13 has a message for taxpayers: “Don’t blame me.”

Steven Fought, the Democrat running in the 8th Congressional District, was surprised to learn he was the only person to file petitions for the race when the previous candidate, Corey Foister, dropped out.

“I looked at the vacancy in this district and thought the people deserved a choice,” Fought said.

Foister’s decision to leave the race was prompted by a job opportunity out of state. Had he waited an additional 17 days to withdraw, the Democratic Party would have been able to appoint a replacement candidate. Instead, state law requires that a special election be held, even though Fought’s name will be the only one on the ballot.

That me ans an election that costs taxpayers $500,000 will almost certainly reveal what is already known, that Fought will be opposing Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, in the November election.

Fought may cruise to victory in the Democratic primary, but he faces a much more difficult challenge on Nov. 8. The 8th District, which includes Butler, Preble, Darke, Miami, Clark and a portion of Mercer counties, is one of the most GOP-friendly districts in Ohio.

“It’s the toughest district in the state of Ohio for a Democrat,” Fought said. “The Washington insiders peg it as a ‘plus 14’ Republican.”

So why is he running?

“It’s not really about Warren Davidson,” Fought said about his Republican opponent, who was sworn in June 9 after winning the seat vacated by longtime congressman and House Speaker John Boehner, who resigned last October. “It’s about my opportunity to present myself to the voters of the district as somebody who has the experience to be a good member of Congress. And I’m going to be transparent on the issues. I’ll say exactly what I think. Sometimes people will agree with that, sometimes they won’t agree with that.”

Local officials tried to reduce the cost of holding an election with just one person on the ballot.

Jason Baker, Clark County Board of Elections director, said initially he looked for some way to hold the special election without going to the expense of opening every precinct.

“Unfortunately the Ohio Revised Code says differently,” he said. “Here in Clark County we will have 50 of 51 locations that will be open. Regardless of how many candidates are on the ballot you have to have a full-blown election for it. It doesn’t matter if it’s one, two or 50 (candidates).”

Early voting in the special 8th District Democratic primary has already started at the board offices.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who runs Ohio’s elections, considers this one to be a waste of time and money.

“I hope the legislature will change the law to avoid this problem in the future,” he said in a written statement.

Although it is too late for this election, one proposal is already in the works to fix the problem should it surface again. Under a proposal being circulated from Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marys-ville, the secretary of state would be empowered to declare a candidate as the party’s nominee for office, if the previous nominee in a congressional contest drops out and only one person enters the race. The change in law would mean no special primary election would need to be held.

Taxpayers have already paid for a previous special election in the district, at a cost of $505,000. On June 7 voters elected Davidson to serve out the remainder of Boehner’s term, which runs until the end of the year.

The state of Ohio reimbursed county election boards for their costs in the special election and is expected to do the same for the Sept. 13 primary.

Although he’s never run for office before, Fought has beenaroundpoliticsandgovernment most of his adult life. He was a newspaper reporter in Mercer County beforejoiningtheadministration of former Gov. Richard Celeste, managing communications in the Ohio Department of Transportation. From there he went to work for then Ohio Secretary of State Sherrod Brown. When Brown went to Washington to serve in the U.S. House, Fought went with him as press secretary. Later, Fought worked for Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D- Toledo.

In a normal year, he might not have a chance against Davidson, but this is not a normal year, Fought noted.

“Politics are in turmoil in the United States. People have lost faith in institutions, particularly in Congress, for good reason,” he said. “I’m under no illusions, but this is a race where I can have the most impact and force people to think about both sides of the issues and see what happens. I’m an unconventional candidate in an unconventional year.”

‘Politics are in turmoil in the United States. People have lost faith in institutions, particularly in Congress, for good reason.’
Steven Fought
Candidate for Congress

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