COLUMBUS — While one of the three Republican candidates seeking the nod on May 8 as their party’s candidate for the Ohio 1st District Senate seat is the incumbent, none of the hopefuls has ever been elected to this seat.
The GOP primary for the 1st District Senate seat is a three-way affair between Rob McColley of Napoleon, Bob Barker Jr. of Van Wert and Craig Kupferberg of Findlay. The winner will square off in November against Democrat Adam Papin of Bryan.
McColley, technically, is the incumbent, having been appointed to the seat in December after former Sen. Cliff Hite resigned amid allegations that he had made unwanted sexual advances toward a female state employee.
Barker and Kupferberg have never before sought elected office at any level.
McColley, 33, describes himself as a “limited government person and a constitutionalist” and said the state “should be very mindful of the government encroaching on areas it should not be encroaching upon.”
A lawyer and a former economic development director in Henry County, McColley said he feels a connection with businesses big and small throughout the 11-county district. He is a strong supporter of legislation introduced this week that would require state agencies to reduce the number of regulatory restrictions now in place.
“We (the legislature) need to have greater oversight over regulatory agencies,” said McColley. “I’m not saying we need to get rid of all regulations, but we need greater oversight into what is harming our local businesses.”
McColley, who called himself a “true conservative,” said he is proud of his 100 percent voting record on pro-life and Second Amendment issues.
Barker, 52, describes himself as a full-time, blue collar, born-again Christian candidate who wants to go to Columbus to help President Donald Trump “drain the swamp.” He is pro-gun and anti-abortion.
Barker said teachers who are willing to carry firearms should be permitted to do so and suggested school districts hire retired veterans or law enforcement officers to serve as school resource officers.
School reform is also on Barker’s radar, but he wants government to take a lesser role. “In my opinion, every time the government sticks its fingers in something it becomes a big mess. We need to identify school districts that are working and made a model out of them.”
Kupferberg, 59, is a former principal and assistant superintendent at Findlay High School. He is campaigning against a Republican Party he said has strayed from its roots.
“There is a lot of frustration out there about our current party leadership at the state level. There’s a lack of conservative control, and the incumbent is part of the problem,” said the Findlay resident.
“One of my major concerns is how our current legislative leadership is obsessed with centralizing power and authority in Columbus,” Kupferberg said. “I invite voters who would like to see a more conservative direction from party leaders to vote for me.”
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.