WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) — Some Democratic leaders are shunning their party’s nominee by supporting a write-in candidate in southern Ohio’s U.S. House race.
Truck driver William Smith has won the 2nd District Democratic nomination twice in the last three primaries. But Smith, who lives with his mother in Pike County, does virtually no campaigning, frustrating party officials in the district that stretches from eastern Cincinnati across eight counties.
That’s why Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke and party officials in Clermont and Brown counties are endorsing write-in candidate Janet Everhard.
“The guy who won the primary hasn’t done anything and won’t do anything,” Burke told WVXU radio in Cincinnati. “We know that because he has done this before.”
Everhard, a retired gynecologist and surgeon from New Richmond, says she wants to give voters a chance for change and an alternative to an “impostor Democrat” against Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup. She met with Smith, who declined her request that he withdraw and they work together. He said it should be the other way around.
“It’s a little frustrating and a little disappointing,” Smith told The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Party officials have suggested that Smith’s easy-to-remember Anglo-Saxon name is partly responsible for his primary successes along with a mysterious robocall campaign for him during the 2012 primary. An unregistered super PAC paid for robocalls to residents encouraging them to support Smith during Ohio’s 2012 primary election. Smith has long denied any involvement in the automated calls, and a federal investigation failed to uncover who was behind them.
Wenstrup, an Iraq War veteran and podiatrist, upset GOP incumbent Jean Schmidt in the 2012 primary, got 59 percent against Smith in the general and won re-election in 2014 by getting two-thirds of the general election vote.
Wenstrup campaign consultant Mark Weaver said Wenstrup isn’t focused on what the Democrats are doing.
“He’s confident that his strong conservative record of leadership speaks for itself and that voters will agree,” Weaver said.