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U.S. House 10th District race full of history, boundary changes

Ohio I voted stickers
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Turner faces challenge from Democrat David Esrati for U.S. House District 10.

Voters in Ohio’s 10th District will choose between a well-established politician and long-time community activist on November 8th. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Turner faces Democratic challenger David Esrati for the U.S. House seat. In an interview with WYSO, Dayton Daily News Investigative Reporter Josh Sweigart details the race between the two candidates.

Josh Sweigart: Yeah, the history between Mike Turner and David Esrati, it goes back three decades. From the two of them first tried to enter political office with a run for mayor back in 1993 against incumbent Clay Dixon, in a strange race in which Esrati got in a fight with Dixon and Turner ended up winning that race and became mayor of Dayton and went on to become congressman after that. And over the years, Esrati has been a name for himself as an activist and a blogger and filing lots of lawsuits while Turner has had a long run at Congress. So, the two of these men being on the ballot together, the culmination of an interesting storyline between the two of them. One of the most notable things in Esrati's history was when he got arrested in a Dayton City Council meeting shortly after that 1993 election for wearing a ninja mask to a meeting to protest changes and rules, and Mike Turner was the mayor of Dayton at that time.

Jerry Kenney: It is interesting in that you've got a campaign or a competition against an established politician and someone who has spent decades fighting for what he thinks is right from local government.

Sweigart: Yes, Esrati is an outsider in every conceivable way. He's not endorsed by the local Democratic Party, has not been successful with any political run, and he's made many political runs over the years. Turner's a very established politician and mayor of Dayton, a congressman, for quite some time, and Esrati has been an outsider for decades.

Kenney: If you will, Josh, give us an overview of the accomplishments that each candidate is touting.

Sweigart: I mean, Mike Turner is well known for of the work that he's done to maintain and bring funding to (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base). He talks about the work is done for the VA and bringing funding to that, economic development, a lot of the funding that he has been involved in and in claims to have brought money into lots of our local jurisdictions for economic development purposes. Esrati has been an activist and a blogger over the years. One of the things that he does a lot is file lawsuits. He's sued the Dayton Metro Library for a civil rights case. He sued the city of Dayton years ago for a case. And so, he's been an activist, an outspoken critic of City Hall and lots of people over the decades. He's been involved in veterans groups as well, and largely just sort of an advocate for positions that he feels strongly about.

Kenney: You mentioned that David Esrati does not have the backing of the Democratic Party here in Dayton or Montgomery County, and there is some difference in fundraising between the campaigns as well, correct?

Sweigart: Yes. Mike Turner has a ton of money. I mean, the last campaign filing deadline that I saw, he had over $750,000 on hand. He's brought in money from I mean, incumbents get a lot of money. He started off with a big cash balance because he's been at this for a while. Esrati on the other hand, has raised far less money, and in the last campaign filing that I saw, I think he had $57 in his campaign account. So, a very large difference in the resources available between these two.

Interestingly, the Ohio Republican Party actually fielded a flier that a lot of us received in this congressional district attacking Esrati, and that's some of the only campaign literature that a lot of people have seen about Esrati is actually from a Republican Party criticizing him because he didn't have the money to actually put a flier in the field. So, yeah, huge, huge financial difference in the two.

Kenney: And something that could affect both candidates is that the district boundaries where they would be serving have changed, correct?

Sweigart: Yeah. There are people who are be surprised by when they see these two on the ballot and we've talked to voters in this in Springfield, especially, who, with the whole confusion about redistricting and how it played out, that they're just unaware that they're not in Warren Davidson's district anymore. So, the new congressional district still includes Montgomery County and Dayton, and still includes Greene County, but now includes the city of Springfield. And so, voters in Springfield will now get to vote in this race when they used to be voting in a different congressional race altogether.

Kenney: Josh Sweigart is an investigative reporter with the Dayton Daily News. Josh, thanks so much for your time and the information today.

Sweigart: Thank you.

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.