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When Pat Tiberi Leaves, What's Next For Ohio's 12th District?

Pat Tiberi

Ohio’s second longest-serving member of Congress is stepping down from his post to take a job in the private sector. Rep. Pat Tiberi has served as a U.S. Representative for the 12th district in Central Ohio since 2001, and in those nine terms came to carry a lot of political clout in Washington, D.C.

But what will his departure mean for his constituents and for Ohio?

Tiberi has been popular, winning re-election every two years by double-digit margins in a district that his opponents say was heavily gerrymandered to give him the advantage. He’s a member of the Ways and Means Committee and chairs the Joint Economic Committee—key panels dealing with health care and tax policy.

Rob Secaur, executive director of the Ohio Republican Party, says Tiberi is well known both at home and in the nation’s capital.

“Congressman Tiberi was a senior member for us in the Congressional delegation and that will be a loss for us,” Secaur says. “But I imagine there will be a lot of candidates who will look to fill that position and in the Ohio Republican Party. It’s a strong district for us so we anticipate we will be able to replace him with a strong conservative member.”

Tiberi’s early resignation will trigger a special election, but Secaur explains Tiberi’s seat could be empty for a couple of months while interested candidates participate in a primary.

Once that person is elected in the primary next spring, they’ll have to be elected in the general election next year.

"I can tell you they will be lined up from here to the state line for people to replace him," says Gov. John Kasich, who Tiberi replaced in Congress in 2000. 

Kasich is definitely not among the contenders, a list that reportedly includes several state lawmakers such as Senators Kevin Bacon, Jay Hottinger and Kris Jordan, Rep. Rick Carfagna, and Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo, who just dropped out of next year’s race for state treasurer.

Steve Cuckler, a longtime Delaware County Republican leader, says whoever gets the spot needs to represent his county well. After all, it comprises one-third of Tiberi’s district.

“I think it’s important for whoever is running that they have Delaware ties and or are from Delaware,” Cuckler says. “I think that’s going to be a very critical component in addition to the other requirements, right. They are going to have to be conservative, they are going to have to have some ballot experience, be ballot tested and then also have the ability to raise money in a quick amount of time.”

State Rep. Andy Brenner, a conservative from Delaware County, says he won’t run himself for Tiberi’s seat. But he’s hoping whoever takes the spot will be a strong conservative, and one who backs President Trump.

"They need to follow solid Republican, conservative credentials, and given the makeup of the district, which is more conservative now than it has been, I would say that’s what they need to represent,” Brenner says.

David Pepper, head of the Ohio Democratic Party, disagrees on that point. Pepper says the 12th district isn’t as conservative as it is often made out to be.

He says Democrats have been making inroads there and sees Tiberi’s departure as an opportunity for them.

“It will take a very good combination of a strong candidate, real resources, but most importantly—the most important ingredient that I think partly led to this decision—the constituents of this district, in particular, have been more outspoken and more out on the street, demanding better of their congressman than any in the state,” Pepper says. “The voters, the activists, have literally had missing signs posted all over this district.”

He says Democratic constituents have been trying, to no avail, to get access to Tiberi for months now to talk about health care and other issues. Pepper thinks accessibility will be a big issue in the next election.

Tiberi will resign by the end of January, though an exact date has not been set.

The next phase for him? Serving as the new president and CEO of the Ohio Business Roundtable, a private organization that lobbies for economic policies. Richard A. Stoff, the retiring president, makes more than $692,000 in pay and compensation, but the amount of Tiberi’s package has not been disclosed.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.