Captain Eric Spicer of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office isn’t your typical Republican candidate. He prides himself have both the experience in handling a private sector payroll and also looking after the taxpayers concerning public budgets. A former business owner who felt called to serve his community to become a member of law enforcement, Spicer points out that he’s the only non-politician in the GOP primary race in the 73rd Ohio House District. But that’s not to say that Spicer is a novice when it comes to politics and public policy. He’s served as a the legislative liaison for his Sheriff’s Office, and considered running for the Ohio House before when it was an open seat, but declined as seven other Republicans had already declared.
But that’s not what makes Spicer unique. Instead, it was his willingness to be interviewed by Plunderbund, the leading progressive political blog in Ohio.
During the Issue 2 campaign, We Are Ohio boasted that their coalition being bipartisan and warned that the political ramifications would not be limited to one election. The F.O.P. threatened supporters of SB 5 with primary challenges. Eric Spicer’s candidacy is evidence of this.
His primary opponents are State Rep. Jerrod Martin (R-Beavercreek) and Greene County Commissioner Rick Perales. The district is solidly Republican, especially after redistricting. John McCain in 2008 would get 58% of the vote in the new 73rd District, in a State where he 47% of the total statewide vote.
Martin has become politically ostracized from the Ohio House Republican caucus after he was cited for driving under the influence with children in a car shortly after former Rep. Bob Mecklenborg’s DUI with a suspected exotic dancer forced him to resign. Stripped of his chairmanship, Martin has seen the Speaker of the House, a member of his own party, publicly call for his resignation.
Martin managed to raise only $7,700 over the last six months, but spent $9,200, including a $7,500 donation made to the Ohio House Republican Caucus on July 13, 2011, just days before he was arrested for suspected OVI. Martin’s campaign is deeply in debt to himself and Carolyn Martin, who I suspect is his mother. His fundraising clearly dried up after he was stripped of his committees.
The State agreed to dismiss the OVI charge in return for Martin’s guilty plea on the moving violation. The Court kept Martin under an administrative license suspension for Martin’s refusal to submit to a breath test as part of the deal. Ordinarily, a party could seek to have a court terminate such an suspension when the underlying OVI charge is dismissed. Regardless, if Martin wins the GOP primary, it’s going to be based on virtually name recognition alone.
Rick Perales, on the other hand, raised $18,750.00, but claims to have “carried over” over $29,000 (which doesn’t make sense since I am unaware of him having a campaign committee before this last reporting period in which he could carry over such money) and reports to have over $45,000.
Spicer believes, as I did back in November, that the Ohio House Republican Caucus leadership is favoring Perales, but virtually all of Perales reported fundraising came from donors in or near the district, and not Columbus, according to Perales’ campaign finance report with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
Spicer was an early voice against SB 5. “We tried to shove through bad legislation,” Spicer said, “that was a fiasco.” Spicer argued, “Ronald Reagan believed the Republican Party was a big tent party,” so Spicer wants the district represented by someone who can work with all parties and help build consensus. He’s skeptical of the effort to “modernize” the Ohio Constitution, and wants to be a part of the process to keep an eye on it.
“Any time people talk about ‘modernizing’ our state or U.S. Constitution, it raises an eyebrow,” Spicer said. However, when asked if he favored abolishing legislative term limits, Spicer said emphatically he did not. “I think it’s working.”
Spicer’s objections to Martin was not really based on Martin’s embarrassing headlines as much as it was on Martin’s voting record in the Ohio House. “He’s voted against the Republicans forty-eight times,” Spicer said. But it’s not the number Spicer objects as much as the issues he said Martin voted against his party, as he rattled off votes Martin made against protecting domestic violence victims, protecting the home addresses of probation officers from public records so that criminals don’t know where probation officers live, and being the sole no vote in criminalizing bath salts and synthetic marijuana, substances Spicer says has caused at least a dozen deaths in his community.
But equally upsetting to Spicer is votes Martin did vote with his party, such as with SB 5 (which was repealed when Issue 2 failed) and the state budget.
In talking about his opposition to SB 5, he added, “and 60% of the voters agree with me.” What particularly bothered Spicer about SB 5 was he believes it “had unintended consequences that would have created a windfall for trial lawyers by getting rid of binding arbitration.”
As you’d expect, Spicer is a law and order candidate who touts the endorsement of not only his boss, Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer, but the endorsements of the sheriffs from Champaign and Butler Counties. While the Ohio F.O.P. has not endorsed in this primary and Spicer was coy about the subject, I can’t help but believe that Spicer was recruited by the F.O.P. to run as they had solicited its members to challenge Republicans who voted for SB 5 in primaries.
Spicer wants to address school funding, mentioning that after decades since the Ohio Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, it’s time to fix it. On the State budget, Spicer (just as Perales has publicly done) criticized the budget for taking funding away from schools and local communities in order to balance the State’s finances.
“The State didn’t look under its own hood and kicked the problem down to the local level,” Spicer said. He said Ohio has to have a balanced budget, but “not on the backs of local communities.” All the State budget did, Spicer argued, is shift the pressure to raise taxes on property owners and municipal income taxpayers.
In discussing Martin, Spicer said, “He’s ineffective who is not welcomed by his own caucus. He wants to get on the bus, and not represent the people.” Spicer added that he would be the type of legislator with the courage to vote no.
Although Spicer reported at the end of January with only $6,000 on hand, he’s optimistic that his message as a grassroots Republican candidate that isn’t beholden to Columbus politicians and donors is working out. Spicer specifically cited that he wants to the volunteer and financial support of those who supported We Are Ohio.
“I’m running a grassroots campaign that won’t be beholden to big business,” said Spicer.
With no disrespect to the Democrats running in this race, this is not a district we can win, unless Martin manages to win the GOP nomination. And even then, it’s still a longshot. If you would like to know more about Eric Spicer or wish to follow his campaign, please be sure to check out his campaign website and its Facebook page.
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