Sunday, March 19, 2000

Democrat takes on GOP stronghold

Statehouse race poses uphill fight

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — It's easy to be skeptical about Rick Inskeep's chances of beating Republican Tom Raga for Ohio's 2nd House District seat in November.

        After all, Mr. Inskeep is a Democrat in a county that is largely Republican and where no Democrats hold office.

        Mr. Raga, a Deerfield Township trustee, spent an estimated $50,000 to fight off two well-known opponents and gain the GOP's nomination for state representative in this month's primary election. Mr. Inskeep spent $107 and ran unopposed.

        In Warren County, the Republican primary election has traditionally decided the next round of elected officials. With Democratic voters scarce — fewer than 6,000 registered— the GOP has controlled politics in Warren County for decades.

        Mr. Inskeep said he is not worried about being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the Republican party, which boasts more than 20,000 registered voters. He said ultimately the election will be decided by the county's 60,000-plus nonpartisan voters.

        “I'll put it to you this way: My odds are 50-50,” said Mr. Inskeep, 42, a Mason resident and community activist who has run unsuccessfully for Mason City Council and Ohio's 7th District Senate seat..

        Mr. Inskeep and Mr. Raga are running to succeed state Rep. George Terwilleger, R-Hamilton Township, who cannot run because of term limits.

        “If a candidate has an "R,' it doesn't matter if he's breathing,” Earl Sizemore, Warren County's Democratic Party chairman, said in a January interview with the Enquirer. “I won't say anything's impossible, but it would be hard” to win a race.

        Mr. Raga, 34, who won handily over Mason Councilwoman Betty Davis and Clearcreek Township Trustee Ed Wade March 7, refused to buy into the notion that this will be a less stressful election than the primary.

        “I'm going to run a full-out campaign,” said Mr. Raga.

        “It would be easy to sit back and not campaign because of the strength of the party, but that's not my style,” he said.

        Mr. Inskeep said he won't deviate from his campaign strategy, either.

        “I'm not looking at beating Tom Raga,” said Mr. Inskeep. “I'm looking at putting the issues out on the table that I think are important.”


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