Davidson wears out shoes touring 8th District
by Michael D. Pitman
Critics of former Speaker John Boehner argued that, in his latter years in Congress, especially when he elevated in U.S. House leadership roles, he spent more time in Washington, D.C., and less time in the 8th Congressional District.
That was a sentiment echoed throughout the primary election in the race to replace the West Chester Twp. Republican, who resigned at the end of October.
Over the course of the year, U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy — who won a hotly contested and competitive special primary in March and a less competitive special general election in June to replace Boehner in Congress — said he had worn out one pair of dress shoes and has a second pair in need of repair. He’s been to about 120 events in the six-county district with around 723,000 constituents.
“It’s impossible to get to know all 723,000 people, but we’re going to make a good effort,” said Davidson.
He said people have told him they’re glad to be able to meet face-to-face with their congressman.
“It’s kind of cool to have the Speaker of the House as your representative, but it’s important to have just a regular member of Congress,” he said.
He said he’s put “a whole lot of miles on the car” and consumed “lots of cups of coffee” in his quest to meet as many constituents as possible. That includes this coming Monday evening when he addresses the Concerned Veterans for America at a “Veterans and Military Town Hall” in West Chester Twp.
He faces re-election on Nov. 8 against Springfield Democrat Steven Fought.
What Davidson is doing is “very common” for a freshman congressman because “they really do need to meet the district,” said Bryan Marshall, Miami University professor and assistant chair of the Political Science Department.
“What they’re trying to do is to really build trust,” he said. “Before you can build trust, you have to make sure people know who you are.”
Most times a state representative or a state senator is elected to Congress — Boehner was a state representative when elected — so it’s difficult to know the district when you don’t travel at least a portion of it on a regular basis, Marshall said.
So the work Davidson is doing now “is really crucial,” he said.
It’s also crucial because freshmen congressman are historically “the most vulnerable” when it comes to re-election bids, Marshall said. But in the case of Ohio’s 8th Congressional District — one of the most conservative district’s in the state — Davidson is not as vulnerable as most as he’s facing a replacement Democratic opponent, he said. However, in this unpredictable presidential election year, Marshall did concede anything is possible.
“It’s going to be more of a race because of the presidential election,” Marshall said.
David Schnittger, a spokesman for Boehner, said the former speaker had “constant pressure” from those on congressional leadership to make Washington, D.C., his main home. But he and his wife, Debbie, maintained their West Chester Twp. home as their primary residence.
“Not every congressional leader does that,” said Schnittger, who worked for Boehner when he was in Congress. “This decision meant they remained members of the community, where their daughters went to school and were raised, and stayed in touch with their neighbors as much as they could even when the demands of the leadership office competed for his time.”