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Tea Party candidate drops out of today's primary race

By Christine Annarino
On May 5, 2014

In a surprising change of events last week, Tea Party member Matthew Ashworth withdrew from Ohio's District 8 congressional race to back fellow Tea Party member Eric Gurr, who is attempting to unseat House Speaker John Boehner in today's primary.

Ashworth said he is supporting Gurr so they do not "split the vote," and to ensure whoever opposes Boehner can secure a large portion of the votes.

The Ohio Democratic Party endorses Miami University education professor Tom Poetter, Democratic contender for the District 8 seat. He recently ramped up his efforts in Oxford ahead of the primaries with local meet-and-greets and canvassing events.

However, District 8 is historically Republican. Boehner has occupied the seat since 1990, for the last 12 elections. The majority of eligible District 8 residents have voted Republican across the board for many years.

"People have also felt fed up with the lack of leadership in Congress," Miami art professor Tracy Featherstone, a Poetter supporter, said at a March 10 meet and greet.

A University survey taken August 2013 indicated 59 percent of Ohioans do not approve of House Republicans. They see Boehner as inadequate, with 37 percent in approval and 34 percent in disapproval.

Gurr and Ashworth seem to agree. Gurr, a 48-year-old CEO of a West Chester computer consulting firm, has criticized Boehner's compromises with Democrats while in office and believes he has been there too long.

Gurr said on his website he, "would delve deeper into cuts for the EPA, agricultural subsidies and even the Department of Education. All of these agencies have poor track records recently and have seen their budgets bloated beyond any reasonable level of growth."

Gurr wants to defund Obamacare and said, "It takes years to become a doctor. So the first portion of a serious bill like this would have been to delay for eight years while you fund an increase in the number of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers and equipment."

While Gurr said he sees compromise as weakness, Poetter said he hopes to make preventative health care a priority, bring more competitive jobs to Butler county and bring education reform to Ohioans through open dialogue with Ohio State Legislatures.

He plans to work across the aisle as a necessity, if elected. Poetter sees Boehner as the real opponent. Fundraising is a real roadblock for Boehner's competitors. He outnumbers them with a net worth of $1.7 million.

Poetter supporter Danielle Mann held a campaign event last month at her home.

"The meeting was somewhat geared toward fundraising, but it was never mentioned," Mann said. "We've invited him back to our annual bocce tournament May 24. There will be at least 150 people there, so we wanted to offer him a larger audience."

Gurr said money is the ultimate challenge.

"Speaker Boehner can only bombard the voters with so much information," he said. "I've figured I'll need about $300,000 to make a serious challenge. Although it sounds like a lot, the reality is if I can get a few thousand people to donate $25 - $50 I'll be in a strong position. With a solid drive and $100,000 or so, I think I can pull that off."

Ryan Heinly of Boehner's campaign office reports that Boehner runs his campaign the same no matter how many competitors there are.

"Every time he acts as though he's running it as if he had the hardest campaign." Heinly said.

A Democrat has not held this congressional seat since 1936 and it is going to be a tough race for Poetter to win.

"People are seeing their needs go unheard, especially in impoverished communities within the district," Poetter said.

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