In the Democratic Primary race for the 15th Congressional District, voters – including those in most of Athens County – have two quality choices to send into battle against incumbent Republican Steve Stivers.

Both Rob Jarvis and Rick Neal offer thoughtful and practical ideas for a number of key issues facing the 15th District, which includes a vast swathe of south-central Ohio, as well as parts of the Columbus area. Nearly all of Athens County sits in the district, save for the southeast corner.

Either Neal or Jarvis would be a vast improvement over the incumbent, who holds a leadership position with a Republican Party that has betrayed its ideals and America’s future to President Donald Trump. It’s essential that voters in Ohio and other states – when quality Democratic candidates are running – reject the GOP members of Congress who stand behind this profoundly dishonest, corrupt and incompetent president.

They can start that process by evicting Steve Stivers from his seat in the House.

Stivers, who hails from Upper Arlington, a suburb of Columbus, chairs the powerful National Republican Congressional Committee. He also serves on the House Financial Services Committee.

The irony is that well-funded and influential Stivers will be very hard to beat in the general election, despite holding a leadership position with one of the most unpopular institutions in America today, Republicans in Congress.

While Democrats are hoping for a “blue wave” to sweep their party into control in Congress next November, knocking off Stivers will be a tall order. This is why Democrats should rally around whichever candidate wins in the May 8 Primary, whether it’s Neal or Jarvis.

Fortunately, both offer intelligent, thoughtful solutions for the many important issues facing the 15th District. Whoever wins will add a counterweight against a Republican Congress that favors the rich over the middle class and poor; that has no interest in making health care affordable, accessible or fair; that talks a good game on the opioid crisis but doesn’t put its money where its mouth is; that holds extreme positions on immigration, gun rights and women’s health; and that bends over for whatever latest outrage is being tweeted from the White House.

Important, both Neal and Jarvis can be depended on to support the independent Special Counsel’s investigation (and eventual conclusions) into possible Russian collusion by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and what already appears to be an open-and-shut case of obstruction of justice.

It’s not clear at all that a Republican-majority Congress will support Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions about Trump, or do anything about them. And that would be a tragedy for our great American democracy, with Team GOP tossing out the rule of law in favor of a cheap political victory for their faction and president. 

 

SUPPORTERS OF ROB JARVIS OF Nelsonville cite his support of single-payer health care (or “Medicare For All”) as a key advantage over his opponent, Rick Neal of Columbus, who has supported the idea of lowering Medicare eligibility to 55 years old.

We’re behind any plan that moves toward replacing our current system, which picks winners and losers when it comes to health care, and penalizes employees who work for themselves or for companies that don’t provide affordable health care.

However, we don’t believe that stopping short of full single-payer, as Neal does, should be a deal-breaker for a Democratic congressional candidate, since it’s unlikely any such full-bore reform will occur in the current Congress or whatever Congress is sitting in the foreseeable future. 

It’s a mistake to make support for single-payer health care a litmus test for Democratic candidates, until it can be demonstrated that voters in general elections – especially in “red”-tilting districts such as the 15th – will support that revolutionary change. 

While Jarvis is closer to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (for better or worse), with his attacks on “the corporate takeover of our American democracy,” he and Neal don’t differ substantially on many important issues, including gun control, economic development and jobs, women’s right to choose, funding for education, and countering the opioid epidemic in the 15th District.

In this race, we believe either of these forthright, dedicated candidates would serve the purpose of advancing the democratic principles of good government and equal opportunity to all classes of citizens that are under siege in Trump’s America. That being the case, we don’t feel comfortable choosing one over the other. Just make sure that you support whoever wins the May 8 Democratic Primary, Rick Neal or Rob Jarvis, in the general election next fall.

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