A 23-year-old law school student emerged Thursday night as the Republican candidate for the 42nd District of the Ohio House of Representatives.
It took four rounds for Niraj Antani of Miami Twp. to gain a majority of votes from the district’s GOP precinct captains, becoming the ballot successor to Terry Blair, 67, who died June 26 in the final months of his third term.
“I feel good, great,” Antani said minutes after the final votes were announced at the Mandalay Banquet Center. “I thought I had a chance. We had five qualified candidates, and they all care about their community.”
“I think that my generation deserves a voice,” he said. “I think it’s a testament to our case.”
The second-year University of Dayton law student was among five candidates who sought the votes of Montgomery County Republican Party leaders charged with replacing Blair’s name on the ballot in the district, which tends to lean to the GOP.
Antani’s election “says that we’re willing to look to young people to play a role,” said Dave Landon, vice chair of the party’s executive committee. “That we’re looking for a fresh face, a non-white face.”
Finishing behind Antani on the fourth ballot was Tom Young, a 60-year-old Washington Twp. resident and former Miamisburg city councilman who had challenged Blair for a statehouse seat in the past.
“It was a great process,” Young said. “The key thing is staying united.”
Washington Twp. Trustee Scott Paulson lasted three rounds before being dropped from the ballot. Washington Twp. businessman Mark Crawford was knocked out after two rounds, while German Twp. Trustee Jacobs Stubbs bowed out after the first round.
Stubbs expressed interest in the job Tuesday night, one day before the deadline.
Antani is set to face Democrat Leonard D. Johnson, 67, of West Carrollton in November to represent the district that also includes Germantown, Miamisburg and Moraine.
The winner will be elected to a two-year term with an annual salary of $60,584.
“We’re excited about this going into the election,” said Phil Plummer, Montgomery County sheriff and chair of the county GOP executive committee. Antani “is a highly-intelligent young man.”
Antani earned his bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University, where he was state chair of the Young Americans for Romney in Ohio. He was named Republican Man of the Year for 2013 by the county GOP.
Each of the candidates had seven minutes to address the 58 precinct captains.
Young garnered the most votes in each of the first two rounds, followed by Antani and Paulson, party members said.
Stubbs dropped out after the first round. After the second round, two-thirds voted to drop the one with the fewest votes - Crawford - from the ballot, leaving Young, Antani and Paulson, according to party members.
Under Ohio law, the Republican caucus in the Ohio House would pick someone to fill the remainder of Blair’s term. Because the House is in recess until after the election, the caucus may not fill the position, said Landon.