Three Warren County Republicans are vying for Ron Maag’s 62nd District seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.
The race, including a candidate counting on support from voters going to the polls to support Donald Trump’s run for the White House, is also part of the continuing struggle for control of the local GOP, which dominates the county’s political scene and elected offices.
Maag, who is term-limited as a state representative, is expected to pursue appointment to Ohio Sen. Shannon Jones’ office. Jones is unopposed in the upcoming primary and general elections for Pat South’s seat on the Warren County commission.
The GOP primary race for Maag’s seat is between Ray Warrick, chairman of the county GOP; Clearcreek Twp. Trustee Steve Muterspaw; and former Franklin Mayor Scott Lipps.
The result, along with one for GOP seats in wards across the county that make up the majority of the party’s leadership, will be a measure of the political strength of each segment of the party in this Republican stronghold, one of Ohio’s fastest-growing counties.
The winner of the GOP primary in the 62nd District — which includes Springboro, Franklin, Waynesville and Carlisle — should face opposition in November from Samuel Ronan of Springboro.
The candidates, none of whom has run for statewide office before, all oppose abortion and an expansion of Medicaid. All three agree higher education should be reformed to make it more affordable and that Ohio would benefit from becoming a Right to Work state.
Only Warrick supports legalization of marijuana use.
Lipps is the most experienced campaigner, having been elected to multiple council terms in Franklin. Muterspaw is in his first term as trustee in Clearcreek Twp., winning more votes than three veteran trustees.
“With the redistricting, I felt someone from a small community would have a chance,” said Lipps, a businessman and long-time councilman in Franklin. Maag is his campaign treasurer.
Muterspaw is backed by County Prosecutor David Fornshell, Commissioners Dave Young and Tom Grossmann, as well as County Treasurer and Clearcreek Twp. Fiscal Officer Linda Oda.
He is also backed by the mayor of Franklin, Denny Centers, where Lipps lives and previously served as mayor and councilman.
“When you serve together for 10 years, there are going to be disagreements and issues,” Lipps said, adding he has the endorsement of former Franklin Mayor Jim Mears.
Warrick has never been elected to political office, except the party seat he won in 2014 in an upset by the Tea Party branch.
He is administrator in Hamilton Twp., where the largest percentage of voters in the 62nd District live.
Still, Warrick described himself as an outsider during a voter’s forum earlier this month, prompting the moderator to point to Trump’s lead so far in the Republican presidential primary.
Last week, Warrick said his best hope of winning the most votes in the same primary where Ohioans pick presidential candidates was based on a big turnout in response to attention generated by Trump’s lead coming out of Super Tuesday primaries.
“The other wild card out there is the Trump factor,” Warrick said. “If only the normal primary voters show up, there’s no way I can win.”
Warrick’s opponents point to his legal problems stemming from unpaid state sales tax and a past bankruptcy.
“There are people who have concerns,” said Muterspaw, a former business owner in his first term as a trustee in Clearcreek Twp., the growing township around the Warren-Montgomery line and outside Springboro.
Warrick attributed the financial and legal problems to the economic downturn and a lack of resolution of questions over how much in back taxes is owed to the state.
In addition to support from business groups and the county’s elected officials, including Maag, Commissioner Pat South and Sheriff Larry Simms, Lipps apparently has the fullest campaign coffers. Lipps has $54,041, compared to Warrick with $12,327 and Muterspaw’s $8,385 on hand, according to pre-primary campaign finance reports.
Warrick said he has not been seeking endorsements, another example of his critical stands on “politics as usual.”
One of Lipps’ campaign cards pictures him holding a baby and advertising his endorsement by the Ohio Right to Life Political Action Committee.
Muterspaw has the backing of local Right to Life leaders and Congressman Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, as well as 30 years of opposition to abortion, he said.
“I’m the only candidate doing that, not just saying it when I run for office,” Muterspaw said.
Visit vote.daytondailynews.com for more information about each of the candidates and their stances on political issues, including income tax cuts and education reform.