OH-5: Free-For-All in Special Election
The untimely demise of Rep. Paul Gillmor (R) has produced a blizzard of actual and potential candidates for his former Congressional seat. It is anticipated that primaries will be held on General Election Day (November 6th) and the special election will occur within a few weeks thereafter. The far-flung Northwest Ohio district stretches through Ashland, Crawford, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot Counties. Bush won 61% of the vote in this conservative district in 2004.
Two-time challenger Robin Wierauch (D-Napoleon), the assistant director of the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University, is definitely in the race. Weirauch got 43% of the vote against Gillmor in 2006 and 33% in 2004. She and her advisors have been hoping that there would be no primary on the Democratic side, but I have been told that there are at least two other Democrats are seriously considering a bid. One is Appellate Judge James R. Sherck (D-Fremont), who ran unsuccessfully against Gillmor's predecessor Delbert Latta (R) four times from 1978 to 1984. The other is Mike Grandillo (D-Tiffin), a city councilman and vice president at Tiffin University.
The roster on the GOP side is much longer. A pair of term-limited long-time rivals, State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) and State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), are almost certainly in the race. The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reports that State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) and State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) are on the verge of jumping in, and Wood County Commissioner Tim W. Brown (R) and former State Rep. Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) are considering running as well. The Wall Street Journal also mentions State Rep. Mark Wagner (R-Ottawa Hills) and former State Rep. Jim Hoops (R) as possible candidates. The deceased Congressman's widow, former State Senator Dr. Karen L. Gillmor (R), has indicated that she will not run, but Joe Hallett of the Dispatch seems to think that she may change her mind.
In this kind of accelerated race with a large field of candidates, name recognition is probably the factor most likely to determine the outcome. Wierauch would appear to be in a good position due to her two recent campaigns. However, Bob Latta shares in his father's name recognition and was previously a state senator and Wood County Commissioner. Lynn Wachtmann and Steve Buehrer have each served as State Senator in a district that accounts for about 40% of the 5th Congressional District. And, of course, as widow of the former Congressman Karen Gillmor has as much name recognition as anyone.