Local Republican lawmakers trade accusations of ‘political ambition,’ ‘strange insult’

Published: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 5:03 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 08, 2018 @ 5:03 PM

State Rep. Niraj Antani and State Rep. Jim Butler
State Rep. Niraj Antani and State Rep. Jim Butler

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, is accusing State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, of lining up another Republican to run against Antani in the May primary in an effort to clear his path for a state Senate run.

“I would hope that his unbridled potlitical ambition isn’t causing him to run a primary opponent against another Republican,” said Antani. “In a year that is traditionally bad for the party that controls the White House — that’s us — we should be focused on beating the Democrats and retaining our majorities instead of ripping other Republicans down.”

MORE: Antani, anti-abortion group urge court to act against Kettering clinic

Butler called that “a very strange insult coming from someone who has held political jobs his entire adult life and tells everyone he cannot wait to become governor.”

“I did not recruit either of Niraj Antani’s primary opponents,” Butler said. “I think that it is too bad that Niraj Antani apparently thinks that the voters should not have a choice in the May primary election.”

Ohio Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg

Antani believes Butler is behind the decision by Miamisburg Vice Mayor Sarah Clark, to file petitions Wednesday to run in the 42nd House seat Antani has held since he was picked by the Montgomery County Republican Party in 2014 to run for the seat after the death of Rep. Terry Blair, R-Washington Twp. Antani had no primary opponent in 2016.

Antani called it it is “unfortunate” that Butler has contributed to the non-profit Commonsense Solutions for Ohio headed by Clark, who is in her ninth year on Miamisburg City Council.

RELATED: Three-term councilwoman elected new vice mayor of Miamisburg

Clark, executive director of the conservative advocacy group, said Butler contributed $12,5oo in seed money to get it started and she made the decision to run against Antani on her own.

State Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood. CHRIS STEWART/STAFF

“This is political paranoia on the part of Niraj Antani,” said Clark. ” I think he is planning to run for Senate in two years and I think that he thinks that Jim is also planning to run for Senate in two years.”

Butler confirmed that in 2020 he plans to seek the Senate seat now held by term-limited State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering. Antani said he is focused on the house race.

Marcus Rech of Miamisburg also filed in the 42nd district Republican primary. Miamisburg residents Zach Dickerson and Autumn J. Kerns filed to run in the Democratic primary, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

John McManus, Dayton school board vice president

The 42nd district includes Moraine, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Germantown and part of Centerville, and Washington, Miami and German townships.

RELATED: Butler and Zeltwanger: Proposed regional airports would attract businesses

Butler has no primary opposition in the 41st district, which includes Kettering, Oakwood and parts of Centerville, Dayton and Riverside. He will face Dayton School Board member John McManus, a Democrat, in November.

Sarah Clark

RELATED: Dayton school board vice president announces run for state legislature

Other local statehouse races shaping up

Republican incumbents hold all but one of the Dayton region’s 16 House seats.

The only Democrat is Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, who faces a 39th district Democratic primary challenge from Walter J. Hickman Jr. of Dayton. No Republican filed in the race.

RELATED: Democratic leader says state tax cuts lead to higher local taxes

The 39th district includes most of the city of Dayton and Jefferson Twp.

Two Democrats and one Republican filed for the 40th District to replace term-limited State Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton.

They include Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, who also is chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, and Democrats Albert Griggs Jr., of Huber Heights and Ryan Taylor of Dayton.

RELATED: Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer to run for Ohio House

The 40th district includes Huber Heights, Vandalia, Englewood and parts of Dayton, Riverside, Union and Butler and Clay townships

In the 43rd district race Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, is unchallenged in the Democratic primary. Republican voters will choose between Clayton Councilman Kenny Henning and Jeffrey Todd Smith of Germantown.

RELATED: Rezabek to seek judgeship, opens up hot race for Ohio House seat and Dan Foley confirms he’s running

The 43rd district includes Trotwood, part of Dayton, Clayton, Brookville, New Lebanon and Harrison, Jackson and Perry townships, and all of Preble County.

Greene County

In Greene County State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, is being challenged by Jocelyn Smith of Fairborn in the Republican primary for the 73rd district. The winner would face Democrat Kim McCarthy of Xenia.

The 73rd district includes Beavercreek, Fairborn, Yellow Springs, Bellbrook and surrounding western Greene County townships.

State Rep. Bill Dean, R-Xenia is unopposed in the 74th district primary and in November will face the winner of a Democratic primary pitting Anne Gorman of Plain City against Steve W. Key of Wilberforce.

The 74th district includes Xenia, Cedarville and all of eastern Greene County as well as northeastern Clark County and all of Madison County

Miami County

A crowded field of Republicans will vie in the primary for the chance to challenge write-in Democrat Scott R. Zimmerman of Troy for the seat now held by State. Rep. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, who is running for Ohio Senate.

The Republican primary includes Miami County Commissioner John W. “Bud” O’Brien of Troy, J.D. Winteregg, a Troy man who previously ran for Congress, Jena Powell of Arcanum and George H. Lovett of Tipp City.

The 80th district includes all of Miami County and southern Darke County.

Warren County

In Warren County, State Rep. Paul Zeltwanger, R-Mason, will face Democrat Nikki Foster of Mason in November in the 54th. State Rep. Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, faces Daniel Kroger of Springboro in the 62nd district Republican Party primary. The winner would compete against Democrat Jim Staton of Springboro in November.

Candidates won’t know if they actually make the May 8 primary ballot until the local boards of election certify by Feb. 19 that they have at least 50 valid signatures of registered voters on their nominating petitions.

RELATED: Who is running for Congress locally? Field is taking shape

Republicans hold large majorities in both the Ohio House and the Senate but Democrats are fielding candidates in all 99 House races and hoping to ride a mid-term wave of voter dissatisfaction and regain some seats.

“I always think that recruitment is one of the best signs of a party’s chance to win more elections,” said Christopher Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton. “Candidates tend to not run if they think they’re going to be unable to win. So if you see all these Democrats running for office that would suggest to me that Democrats in general really think they have a better shot this year.”

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Thousands of military civilian jobs in Ohio at risk

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 3:51 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 3:51 PM

            If both the House and the Senate include the provision in the final version of the bill, it could have an impact on 6,000 jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency in Whitehall
If both the House and the Senate include the provision in the final version of the bill, it could have an impact on 6,000 jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency in Whitehall

The U.S. House passed a defense spending bill Thursday that could impact nearly 6,000 civilian defense jobs in Columbus and 2,600 in Cleveland.

The impact of the proposal on the Dayton region and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, meanwhile, would be negligible.

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the House GOP plan “would not have a direct personnel impact as none of the agencies impacted are headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”

Michael Gessel of the Dayton Development Coalition said roughly 400 to 500 people in the Dayton region work in the Defense bureaucracy, but only a small subset of that number could be studied if the proposal becomes law.

“In real numbers, we don’t know the effect. The people who have anything connected to do with the jobs changed would be quite small or none,” he said.

The cuts — pushed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry of Texas — are aimed at saving some $25 billion, which could then be plowed back into other military spending.

The reductions were contained in an amendment to an overall defense bill that passed 351–66. Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Jefferson Township Democrat, was the lone Ohio lawmaker opposing the bill. Beatty said she voted no specifically because of the proposed cuts, which “would not benefit our troops and would put thousands of central Ohio jobs at risk of being eliminated or moved elsewhere.”

While the initial proposal by Thornberry named specific agencies to cut, the final version was more vague, calling instead for the Defense Department to study cuts and target them at specific Defense bureaucratic tasks. Still, the potential cuts to central Ohio defense jobs so alarmed the region’s business community that they flew to Washington last month to personally lobby the Ohio delegation to fight the provision.

The Senate version of the bill is not expected to include the cuts, said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. The White House opposes the amendment, which “would create contradictory and conflicting authorities and relationships” within the Department of Defense.

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents many of the workers whose jobs would be targeted, condemned the proposal as “foolish and shortsighted.” And Brown wrote a letter to Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the panel’s ranking Democrat, warning that the proposed cuts “will negatively impact our ability to complete core national security missions.”

“This arbitrary cut is wrong for our national security and wrong for Ohio and I’ll keep fighting to make sure our jobs are protected in the final bill,” Brown said.

Sen. Rob Portman, R–Ohio, meanwhile, vowed to fight to keep the cuts out of the final version of the bill.

“Our defense agency offices in Columbus and Cleveland play very important roles supporting our men and women in uniform, including making sure they get paid, have the repair parts they need for their equipment, and have the information technology systems needed for mission success,” he said. “These aren’t functions we can get rid of.”

If both the House and the Senate include the provision in the final version of the bill, it could have an impact on 6,000 jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency in Whitehall as well as 2,600 jobs at a similar agency in Cleveland.

The Senate was scheduled to consider changed to its version of the bill on Thursday, but it does so in private session.

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Senate panel votes to name federal courthouse in Dayton for Judge Rice

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 1:49 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 1:49 PM

U.S. District Judge Walter Rice, 78, who moved to Dayton in 1962 and has worked to improve race relations for decades. (GOKAVI)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has passed a bill to name Dayton’s federal courthouse after Judge Walter H. Rice.

RELATED: Dayton federal building to be named after Judge Rice

The move was the first official action on the designation, and now goes to the full Senate.

The building at 200 W. Second Street has not had a name since it opened.

Rice was appointed to the federal bench in June 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. He served as chief judge of the court from Oct. 13, 1996, to Oct. 12, 2003.

A panel convened by Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, chose to name the building after Rice.

Rep. Mike Turner talks about the Dayton federal building being renamed in honor of Judge Walter Rice.

“The courthouse has served the federal government and the Miami Valley for over 40 years and providing it with a formal designation is long past due,” Turner said last year.

The panel was chaired by Dayton attorney Merle F. Wilberding and included Amanda Wright Lane, a great-grand-niece of the Wright Brothers, Dayton History Chief Executive Brady Kress and eight other members.

Staff Writer Thomas Gnau contributed to this report.

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New, updated voting machines could be coming for Ohio voters

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 11:40 AM
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 11:42 AM

            An electronic touch screen voting machine is set up for testing at the Montgomery County Board of Elections. The paper spool will be enclosed at the polls. LYNN HULSEY/STAFF
An electronic touch screen voting machine is set up for testing at the Montgomery County Board of Elections. The paper spool will be enclosed at the polls. LYNN HULSEY/STAFF

A bill that would provide nearly $115 million to counties to help upgrade aging voting equipment, reimburse election boards for more recent machine purchases and set up a unified purchasing and leasing program through the Secretary of State passed a Statehouse panel Wednesday.

The measure approved by the House Finance Committee already passed the Ohio Senate. It is in limbo for when the full House will take up the issue. House members must first elect a new speaker for legislation to move forward.

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The 2,300 touch-screen voting machines used by Montgomery County were built in 2003 using “technology from the Blackberry days,” said Jan Kelly, Board of Elections director.

“We’ve been able to recycle parts from old machines onto existing machines, but we’re running out of those parts,” she said earlier this year. “We’re at the end of the life.”

The amount each county would receive will be allocated based on the number of registered voters, according to the bill introduced by state Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson.

Elections officials in Clark County say it could cost roughly $1.2 million to replace current equipment; in Montgomery County, $8 million.

The Montgomery County board calculates it will receive about $4.2 to $4.5 million depending on the final allocation approved by lawmakers, said Steve Harsman, deputy director.

RELATED: Ohioans may have to dig deep to cover cost of new voting machines

State law currently requires one voting machine per 175 registered voters. There are about 362,000 voters registered in Montgomery County, which deployed 2,142 machines at 173 different locations during the recent primary election, according to the elections board.

Ohio purchased most of the current voting machines in 2005 and 2006 with nearly $115 million in federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money. HAVA passed after the 2000 presidential election exposed a critical need for upgrades.

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Ohio closer to allowing dogs on restaurant patios statewide

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 6:31 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 @ 6:31 PM

            Ohio closer to allowing dogs on restaurant patios statewide. Getty Image
Ohio closer to allowing dogs on restaurant patios statewide. Getty Image

Restaurant owners and not public health officials would decide whether to allow dogs on outdoor patios and porches under a bill that passed an Ohio Senate panel Tuesday.

State Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester, sponsored the bill.

Coley, who likes to take his sheepdogs Wilby and Elwood with him on vacations, out to dinner and around town, said last month of the restaurant owners: “They know what will work for their businesses and their customers and what won’t. Some businesses will choose to welcome pets in and some will say, ‘You know what, no, we prefer you leave your pet at home.’…That should be up to the business, not up to somebody in the Ohio Department of Health or some bureaucrat in a city or municipality around the state. Let’s leave it to the owners.”

Related: State may leave it up to restaurant owners to allow dogs on patios

A similar bill is pending in the Ohio House that would block local public health officials from implementing or enforcing bans.

Generally, public health laws prohibit pets on the premises of food service operations or retail food establishments. The ban is to protect against potential food contamination and disease transfer. Coley said restaurants would still have to meet sanitation requirements and would maintain the right to refuse service pets that appear “flea ridden” or unhealthy.

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