MAPLEWOOD — It’s official. Chris Gibbs, of Maplewood, has declared his candidacy for Ohio’s 4th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, currently held by Jim Jordan, R-Urbana.
Following a county-by-county, district-wide tour during an exploratory phase, Gibbs, 61, formally launched his independent campaign Thursday morning to become the next congressman serving Ohio’s 4th District.
“I began this journey last fall after I declared my independence from the dual party system because, in my view, it is failing us as Americans,” Gibbs said in a press release. “These days, the parties are more interested in fighting each other than fighting for the American people, for you, for me. It is tearing apart families and tearing apart our country, and it has to stop. We need to work together to get things done.”
Gibbs made reference to the conversations he had with constituents during the tour, citing the need for Congress to work toward solutions for healthcare access and affordability, prescription drug pricing, protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid stability, and real trade solutions for manufacturers and particularly farmers.
“I traveled to all 14 counties,” Gibbs wrote via email. “And I have to tell you, I now know where all the great coffee shops are at. Folks were very receptive to someone who would actually show up and listen to their concerns.
“To a person, they are just wore out with the infighting, back and forth, and lack of production from Washington. The first words from everyone were, ‘We want civility and honesty in our government,’” Gibbs wrote.
Gibbs and his wife, Deb, own and operate 560 acres of corn, soybeans, hay and cattle in Shelby and Logan counties. They have two adult children, Jason and Tiffany, along with one grandson.
Gibbs said since he’s running as an independent candidate, he’ll be listening to residents of all parties voice their concerns.
“Throughout this campaign, and if I am elected to Congress, my commitment to you is to listen and understand your concerns, and to work in good faith to find solutions. No grandstanding,” Gibbs said. “And I can commit to the district having my full attention because, as an independent, I don’t have to kowtow to either of these parties. I don’t owe them anything.”
Gibbs and his team of volunteers are back out in the 14 counties in the 4th District collecting signatures on petitions.
“I have a team of both Republicans and Democrats circulating petitions. We are looking for additional volunteers to help with this major project,” said Gibbs. “All this is for not if a candidate doesn’t qualify for ballot access. In Ohio, for an independent candidate to have ballot access, you have to provide 1 percent of the number of voters who cast votes in the last election for governor. For the 4th District, that’s about 2,600 signatures. So we are shooting for twice that.”
Since he just announced his candidacy, Gibbs hasn’t received any endorsements yet.
“No endorsements, but we just announced today, so we are looking toward those. Support within the district and across the nation has been phenomenal and has come from unexpected places,” said Gibbs.”My gut was (telling me) that folks who generally identify as Republican would be pretty tentative since you’re considered a traitor in this political environment if you don’t fall in the party line.
“But I gotta tell you, there are a lot of brave local Republicans out there who have given me the secret thumbs up. They can’t be too vocal with their support because of the vitriol they would experience and I can appreciate and respect that. The good news is, voting booths are private. From the Democratic side there is very open support because their only focus is to make a change. Because of the gerrymandered nature of this district, there is no mathematical path for a Democrat with win regardless of the quality of the candidate,” he said.
Gibbs said he’ll be making fundraising plans starting Friday morning.
“I’ll start making funding calls in the morning all across the nation. I never wanted to put folk’s hard-earned money on the line while I was only in the exploratory phase, but now that we are off and running, look out, I’ll be calling. Messaging is directly proportional to dollars raised in this business,” Gibbs said.
“During the exploratory phase, federal regulations limit a committee from raising excessive amounts of money,” he said. “We put together about $35,000, of which I furnished $11,000 myself. My goal was to raise enough to get a poll in the field so we were data-driven to ensure the effort had a path to victory. We polled the second week of January. There is a path (to a victory), although narrow. An effort like this isn’t for the weak of heart. If it was going to be easy there would be 17 people running.”
Petitions have to be filed the day before the primary election. This year’s primary is March 17, so his petitions have to be filed by March 16.
Reach Melanie Speicher at 937-538-4822.