Ohio’s second longest-serving member of Congress is stepping down from his post to take a job in the private sector. Republican Pat Tiberi has been a U.S. Representative for the 12th district in central Ohio since 2001 and in those nine terms, he has carried a lot of political clout in Washington D.C. But what will his departure mean for his constituents and for Ohio?
Back in 2012, just days before the general election, Republican Pat Tiberi was in his home district, firing up the crowd for a visit from presidential candidate Mitt Romney. 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.
The Executive Director of the Ohio Republican Party, Rob Secaur, says Tiberi is well known at home and in the nation’s capitol. “Congressman Tiberi was a senior member for us in the Congressional delegation and that will be a loss for us. 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,” Secaur says. He explains Tiberi’s seat could be empty for a couple of months while candidates who are interested will participate in a primary. Then, once that person is elected in the primary next spring, they’ll have to be elected in the general election next year.
Gov. John Kasich, who Tiberi replaced in Congress in 2000, says he thinks there will be others who are interested in the position. "I can tell you they will be lined up from here to the state line for people to replace him," Kasich says. Kasich is definitely not among those who are interested in Tiberi’s seat, but that list 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.
A longtime Delaware County Republican leader, Steve Cuckler, says whoever gets the spot needs to represent that county well since 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. 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,” Cuckler explains. Conservative Delaware County Republican Rep. Andy Brenner won’t run for Tiberi’s seat. But he’s also hoping a strong conservative who backs President Trump will take Tiberi’s place. "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.
The head of the Ohio Democratic Party disagrees on that point. David 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 says Tiberi’s departure is 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. The voters, the activists, have literally had missing signs posted all over this district,” Pepper explains. 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 at the end of January to begin serving as the new Ohio Business Roundtable President and CEO. The current leader of that group makes more than $692,000 in pay and compensation, but the amount of Tiberi’s package has not been disclosed.