By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HAMILTON - Courtney Combs, who has been a Butler County commissioner for almost 17 years, and Ohio Rep. Gary Cates will battle each other for the Republican nomination for a state Senate seat that will open up next year.
Combs announced Monday that he'll run for the seat that Scott Nein, a Middletown Republican, will have to relinquish next year because of the state's term-limits law.
He will be competing against Cates, who is House speaker pro tem, for the Butler County Republican Party's endorsement in next year's primary election. Cates, a West Chester resident, will be forced from office next year by term limits.
Although Cates hasn't officially announced his candidacy for Nein's seat, he confirmed Monday that he will run for the office.
"I will present my credentials to the Republicans and hopefully make a convincing case to be their next senator," he said.
Combs said he believes he is the kind of person Butler County needs in the state Senate in these tough economic times.
"I will bring fiscal conservatism and common sense to Columbus, because they could use a little of both," he said. "I believe I can make a contribution in what has become, in important ways, the most difficult time since the Great Depression for public finance in our state."
Combs, 57, lives in Ross Township with his wife, Carol. They have five children.
Combs has worked in the real estate business for 35 years and owns Combs Group Realtors in Fairfield.
He was a Hamilton City Councilman from 1982 to 1986.
He has been elected county commissioner five times - usually a landslide vote.
He is past president of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.
Combs has been interested for a long time in running for state office. He said that with his children getting older, he feels more comfortable with spending the time away from his family that the Senate position would require.
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