Photo Caption: State Sen. Lou Gentile, left, and Fairfield County farmer Scott Wharton, right.
While state Sen. Lou Gentile has announced he will not seek a seat in U.S. Congress to represent Ohio's 6th district, Scott Wharton, a Fairfield County farmer and Ohio University graduate, has announced his bid for Ohio's 15th.
The next U.S. Congressional election takes place in 2014, one year from this November.
Gentile, a Democrat from Steubenville, had reportedly been seeing recruitment efforts by some in the party, who wanted him to challenge two-term Marietta Republican Bill Johnson for Ohio's 6th. That district runs along the eastern border of the state and includes the two southeastern-most townships of Athens County.
Gentile currently represents the 30th district in Ohio's state senate, which includes all of Athens County except for northernmost Trimble Township.
In a release, Gentile said that over the past few months, he has been humbled by the number of constituents, local leaders and supporters who have asked him to consider running for the U.S. House.
"During this same time, I have been working in Columbus to protect seniors, homeowners and small business from new taxes and fighting to put more police and firefighters on the street and teachers in the classroom," Gentile said. "After careful consideration and deep deliberation, I have decided not to enter the race for Congress because I believe at this time I can best represent my constituents in the Ohio Senate."
Gentile previously served in the Ohio House of Representatives, where he represented the 95th House district. In late 2011, Gentile was appointed to fill the senate seat vacated by Jason Wilson after he resigned to become director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia. Gentile was elected to a full four-year term to the state senate in 2012.
Already announced to challenge Johnson for his U.S. Congressional seat is former state representative Jennifer Garrison, a Marietta Democrat. Garrison announced her candidacy late last month saying, "It's time to solve problems and for the hard-working folks of Ohio's Sixth Congressional District to have a fighter for our middle-class families."
While the two southeastern-most townships of Athens County are in the 6th District, the rest of Athens County is in Ohio's 15th Congressional district, held by U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Columbus.
This past week, Scott Wharton, a farmer and Democrat from Amanda in Fairfield County, announced his challenge to Stivers for the seat.
Previously, Wharton lost a Democratic primary to city of Athens law director Pat Lang to challenge Stivers in 2012. Lang lost to Stivers in the general election that year.
Wharton, his news release notes, is a graduate of Ohio University and spent 21 years in the United States Air Force and 23 years working for Delta Airlines, where he is currently a captain on a B-737 aircraft.
"He believes the skills he has acquired during his years of leadership will guide him as the Representative for this district," the release states. "He has spent most of his life serving others, now he would like to serve you."
release goes on to say Wharton feels that with America's economy lagging it is
his time to step up and assist the residents of the district.
"He feels the best way to aide in the recovery of the economy is to end the current gridlock in Congress. This starts with new representatives in Congress, people who truly understand the needs of their constituents," the release stated.
In addition to jump-starting the economy, Wharton also stands for organized labor, veterans rights, agriculture, women's rights, Social Security and Medicare to name a few, it continued.
"He believes that it is imperative to keep Right to Work out of Ohio. Wharton feels that even the name Right to Work is misleading to Ohioans; a more apt term would be Right to Work for Less," the release said. "He feels that Right to Work would erode the wages and benefits of the hard working middle class."
Finally, the release said, as a veteran himself, Wharton thinks it is "vital that all veterans who have fearlessly served receive all the support and medical care they have earned and he will ensure that our country lives up to this obligation."
He invited those seeking more information to find his campaign on Facebook, keywords Wharton for Congress.