Danny O’Connor, Democratic candidate for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, met with constituents in the parking lot of the Frank B. Willis Government Center on U.S. Route 23 as early voting began Tuesday for the Aug. 7 special election.
In the special election, O’Connor, D-Clintonville; Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville; and Joe Manchik, G-Reynoldsburg, are all vying for the unexpired term of former Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa, who resigned from Congress in January to take a position as the new head of the Ohio Business Roundtable. The unexpired term ends Jan. 3, 2019.
When O’Connor arrived, he immediately reached out to shake every hand of those who turned out to see him.
“I think that we have folks excited,” he said. “I love getting out to every part of this district.”
O’Connor said his campaign is seeing a lot of enthusiasm and excitement in every part of the district. He said in talking with people he thinks his message of “a fair economy, protecting access to health care and making sure that folks … get the opportunity to achieve their vision of the American dream” is a something that resonates with people in every part of the district.
“I think that is why we’re having so much fun and so much success … I think it shows that we have a campaign that’s focused on leadership and getting stuff done,” he said. “It’s what we want to do in Washington.”
O’Connor said he wasn’t a political strategist, he is just someone out talking to voters about what is important to them.
“We’re working hard in every single county,” he said. “I want to win every single county just like I did in the primary, and we’re going to do that by talking to people about what things matter to them, kitchen table issues; how you pay your mortgage; how you afford your health care; how you afford retirement.”
Before O’Connor arrived, C. Joseph Diamond stood outside in the parking lot of the government center after voting to shake hands with the candidate. He said he felt like it was time for a change and that he liked O’Connor’s willingness to cross lines to work with the Republicans and his willingness to talk to President Trump.
“I want somebody that is going to listen to us. There is so much hostility, and I think that’s a good indication that we need to come together,” he said. “That’s some of the excitement I’ve seen with Danny.”
Diamond said he would like to see O’Connor address programs for universal health care, food and housing for the underprivileged, and some sort of free higher education.
“I don’t understand why a county this size, the only one in the world at this point, that doesn’t have some type of universal health care,” he said. “I think everyone should have food and housing. I think everybody ought to have the opportunity to go to school at least two years for some type of education. Danny’s not talking about those issues at this point, but that’s why I’m a Democrat.”
Diamond is the owner of a real estate development company, Rosebud Properties and Diamond Design Planning.
While O’Connor talked with others, Peg Watkins, chair of the Delaware County Democratic Party and one of the Democratic members of the Delaware County Board of Elections, not acting in her capacity as a board member but only there to meet O’Connor and vote, said she thinks O’Connor is a good, decent human being who wants to make lives better for all Ohioans and represent his district well.
“In the U.S. Congress we need to work on expanding health care, not reeling it back,” she said. “We need to protect workers’ rights to organize and to get paid decent wages for the labor they contribute to the economy. We need to support public education as opposed to private education for only the relatively few people.”
Before leaving, O’Connor told The Gazette, “My opponent (Balderson) wants to raise the Social Security age. He wants to raise the Medicare age. I think that is stuff that’s not a part of our American dream. I want to make sure that the people who work hard, who earn the right to their Social Security and Medicare, have access to that when it’s their time to retire.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.