Three Democratic candidates are campaigning against each other for a chance to run in the 2018 general election this November against U.S. Representative Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, who has been the U.S. representative for the 15th Congressional District since 2011.
Rick Neal of Columbus, Rob Jarvis of Nelsonville and Ryan Hupp of Lockbourne all filed petitions to run against Stivers by the Feb. 7 deadline. The Democratic field for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District is filled with outsider candidates who have never held public office. The May 8 Ohio primary will decide which of the three first-time politicians will run against Stivers in the general election.
Before he became a congressman, Stivers was in the Ohio Senate and worked for the Ohio Company and Bank One in the private sector. Stivers has served in the Ohio Army National Guard for over 30 years and holds the rank of brigadier general.
During his 7 years in Congress, Stivers has sponsored over 90 pieces of legislation and co-sponsored over 1,300. Stivers also serves on the House Financial Services Committee and is the chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Stivers is working on an infrastructure bill to improve roads, bridges internet infrastructure and broadband speeds in rural areas. He wants to find a way to get people who are not looking for a job back in the workforce. Stivers said he has 18 bipartisan bills that he is either co-sponsoring or sponsoring. Some of those bills include the Open Internet Preservation Act and the Student Loan Debt Relief Act.
Stivers believes that his experience gives him an advantage, but that passion is also worth something in this race.
“Every day, I am honored to represent the people, but the people get to make the choice of who they want when they come out this November,” Stivers said. “I feel confident that I will make my case, and I trust the voters.”
Like the other two Democratic candidates running for Ohio’s 15th congressional district, Rick Neal has never held political office. Neal worked as an international aid worker and humanitarian advocate for most of his life in countries like Morocco, Cambodia and Afghanistan. He is currently a stay-at-home dad in Columbus.
Neal said one of his biggest reasons for running for this congressional seat is that he feels dissatisfied with how Stivers has handled the job.
He thinks Stivers has neglected the district by not providing better paying jobs, affordable healthcare or solutions to the opioid crisis, and because his job as chairman of the National Republican Congressional committee often takes him out of the district.
According Neal's website, the issues that he is most passionate about include creating better paying jobs, supporting the Affordable Care Act, finding solutions to Ohio’s opioid epidemic, investing in renewable energy, and seeking anti-discrimination and equal pay laws for women and LGBT people.
Neal views his status as an outsider candidate to be an advantage in this congressional race. He thinks his background in public health and humanitarian service can help him deal with issues such as healthcare and the opioid epidemic. He believes his fresh perspective sets him apart from other candidates.
“I think Washington better get ready,” Neal said.
While he has never actually held public office before, Rob Jarvis does have some experience in government: He is a high school government teacher in Nelsonville. Jarvis said being able to teach kids about U.S. government has led him to have a deep love for the Constitution.
Jarvis describes himself as a big union supporter and a defender of organized labor. Public education, the opioid problem, a single-payer healthcare system, green energy and net neutrality are issues that he he is particularly passionate about.
Jarvis said he decided to run for Ohio’s 15th congressional district because Donald Trump’s actions as president make Jarvis fear for the safety of the Constitution. Jarvis believes that the best place for him to help protect the Constitution is congressional office.
“If Donald Trump was not president, I would not be running for Congress,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis said he believes he is the best choice out of all the candidates because he has bipartisan appeal and he can be a voice for southeast Ohio since he is the only candidate not from the Columbus area.
“We need to be mindful and reach out to conservative people,” Jarvis said. “There are a lot of Republicans out there who really regret voting for Donald Trump.”
Ryan Hupp is the third Democratic candidate running for congressman of Ohio’s 15th congressional district. Like the other two democrats, Hupp does not have experience in public office. The election of Trump and the decisions that Stivers has made in office are major reasons why Hupp chose to run for office.
Hupp said he is a supporter of women’s rights, unions, net neutrality, single-payer healthcare, nuclear disarmament, open borders, and recreational and medical cannabis.
“Now that the running candidates are official I am glad that there are two other democrats running,” Hupp said in an email. “To Rob Jarvis and Rick Neal, I wish the best of luck and if either should beat me in the upcoming primary I will throw all of my support behind them.”