WEST CHESTER, Ohio (AP) — Republican Warren Davidson won a lopsided victory Tuesday in the special election for the Ohio congressional seat left vacant by former House Speaker John Boehner after nearly 25 years.
Davidson had 77 percent of the vote with 94 percent of precincts reporting from the six western Ohio counties, according to unofficial returns. It is Davidson’s first election to office, after capturing his party’s nomination in March. The Army veteran topped a 15-candidate primary field in the heavily Republican district Boehner first won in 1990 after ousting a GOP incumbent in the primary.
Democrat Corey Foister had 21 percent, and Green Party candidate Jim Condit Jr. had about 2 percent after a day of light voter turnout.
“I view serving the Congress as a return to active duty,” Davidson, a businessman and married father of two, said in a statement. “The real work starts now.”
Davidson will complete Boehner’s term and be in a strong position to win the general election for a full term in the next Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, congratulated Davidson. Ryan’s office said he could swear Davidson in later this week if all goes well.
“Welcome Warren, we look forward to working with you to get our country back on track,” Ryan said in his message. Davidson’s district includes Ryan’s alma mater, Miami University.
Boehner also sent a message of congratulations, saying he knows Davidson will “serve honorably” in Congress, as he did in the Army.
Open seats have been rare in Ohio, which has very incumbent-friendly House districts.
Davidson won the dual March primary for the special and general election nominations with about 32 percent of the vote in each. He ran as a conservative outsider, defeating two incumbent state legislators in the field.
Davidson got key support from some former Boehner antagonists, such as Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and the conservative advocacy groups Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. Davidson has said people in the district considered it “an honor” to have the speaker from their home area, but that they are ready to have “our own representative” in Washington.
A FreedomWorks statement said the 8th District “will finally have a principled conservative representing them.”
George Taylor, 74, of Hamilton, said he voted early, casting his ballot for Davidson because he likes his conservative views.
“We can’t keep spending like this,” Taylor said. “Obamacare is a train wreck, and we’ve got some jobs back (since the recession), but not enough
Boehner defeated a scandal-marred Republican incumbent in the 1990 primary, and then won re-election, often with wide margins, every two years after his first election.
Davidson and Foister, 26, a childhood cancer survivor who says he can do something about issues facing the nation’s youth such as the high cost of education, offered contrasts during a recent forum.
Davidson spoke out strongly against abortion and new restrictions on gun ownership. Foister said he supports abortion rights and that more needs to be done to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
Condit is a frequent candidate running this year under the Green Party banner although Green Party members in Ohio have disavowed him. Green Party activists aren’t sure whether they will get a candidate onto the November ballot, but Condit would have to run as a write-in because election officials disqualified him from running in the general election for the Green Party after voting in the Republican primary in March.
Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell
For some of his other recent stories: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/dan-sewell