VAN WERT — Both Republican candidates challenging incumbent Rep. Bob Latta — Todd Wolfrum and Bob Kreienkamp — claim Latta doesn’t spend enough time talking to his constituency.
Latta, however, said his opponents claims are unfounded, citing the 880 meetings he’s had with district constituents in the last five years.
“One of the best things about this country is we have the First Amendment, where you can say anything you want and not have to back it up,” Latta said.
Todd Wolfrum, current Van Wert County commissioner, attorney and former business owner of a pizza carry-out business, is conducting a lengthy door-to-door campaign throughout the region to introduce his conservative talking points.
Bob Kreienkamp, retired farmer and television broadcaster, said he wants to act as the voice of the people of the 5th District no matter what political party they may be registered with.
“I’m a fiscal conservative. My biggest issue is the budget, cutting spending and trying to shrink government. Mr. Latta has been there 10 years, and I don’t know one thing he plans to cut,” Wolfrum said.
Wolfrum leans far-right on the political spectrum with lengthy posts on his website detailing the ins-and-outs of his positions on issues such as taxes, guns, the separation of church and state and overreach by the judicial system. However, he said many conservative problems exist because of an oversized federal government.
Wolfrum said he would be limiting himself to three terms as not to become “part of the swamp.”
“I want to start a culture of cutting spending. I don’t hear that out of any Republicans right now. I don’t know what to cut. I don’t want to cut entitlements. As a freshman Congressman, I’m trying to find the things that are possible,” Wolfrum said.
“There was a couple of (Latta’s) votes that I completely disagreed with — one was healthcare and the other was the tax bill. I think after 10 years of not really having a leader in the district, the people deserve somebody they can turn to and won’t run away from them,” Kreienkamp said.
Kreienkamp falls closer to moderate than both Wolfrum and Latta. He disagreed with the tax bill he said gave corporations tax cuts after a record profit year without asking for anything in return. He also said he was disappointed in Republicans in Congress failing to replace and repeal Obamacare with a bill that would help constituents in the district.
“Our current Congressman, unless you’re a good friend or a donor, doesn’t seem to want to listen to what people have to say. My belief is that if you represent a district, it doesn’t matter who you are, … everyone has a right to be heard by their representative.” Kreienkamp said.
First and foremost, I believe in serving my constituents and having strong conservative values that represent northwest Ohio values,” Latta said.
Latta has served as the 5th District’s representative since 2007, and he votes along party lines almost conclusively. Most recently, he supported the Republican healthcare bill that failed in the Senate, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and is in favor of increased defense spending. He voted against the recent appropriations bill.
Latta said future concerns include passing a balanced budget amendment, fighting the opioid crisis and focusing on increasing cybersecurity.
Latta also mentioned his anti-abortion stance and his belief in Second Amendment rights.
“I’ve got that proven performance out there, and I want to keep working for the people of the 5th district,” Latta said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.