Friday, Jul 29, 2016
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Editorials

Weirauch for 5th District

As a Democrat in northwest Ohio's predominantly Republican Fifth Congressional District, the odds are stacked against Robin Weirauch. Nevertheless, there are several reasons why Ms. Weirauch (pronounced Y-rock) deserves to prevail in her race against Paul Gillmor, the eight-term incumbent.

First, she's working hard in this campaign, which can scarcely be said of her seldom-seen opponent. Second, she actually lives in the district. Mr. Gillmor long ago gave up any pretense of keeping even a nominal residence in the Fifth District. He lives in the Columbus suburb of Dublin.

Yes, we know that members of Congress aren't required by federal law to live in the district they represent. Nonetheless, Mr. Gillmor's decision to reside elsewhere is a continuing sign of arrogance and disrespect for residents of the district, which spreads out over 12 counties and parts of four others.

Third, Ms. Weirauch says she is committed to running again even if she loses this time. That shows commitment, although we don't concede that her cause is hopeless. History is replete with examples of the unexpected defeat of politicians like Mr. Gillmor who mark time in office too long and lose contact with their constituents.

Ms. Weirauch, 47, who grew up and went to high school in Liberty Center, has lived in Napoleon since 1977. She has bachelor's and master's degrees from Bowling Green State University, where she now is assistant director of the Center for Policy Analysis and Public Service.

In a real sense, Ms. Weirauch is trying to put political theory into practice in her campaign against Mr. Gillmor. It's no easy task, especially since she is getting little financial help from the state Democratic party.

As we noted, the Fourth District is heavily Republican, but discerning GOP voters surely have noticed by now that they have an absentee congressman, who only appears around election time and has accomplished little in 16 years in Washington. At the same time, jobs and economic development have withered in the rural areas and small towns that make up the sprawling district.

Voters of all persuasions are feeling cheated by Mr. Gillmor's lack of engagement with the district and no one should succumb to the notion that the incumbent's victory is inevitable. Even those who believe her quest is futile can make a strong statement to Mr. Gillmor: "Not with my vote will you go back to Washington."

It is embarrassing to watch Mr. Gillmor - and in the Fourth District, Michael Oxley - show such disregard for their constituents. What a stark contrast to the style of long-time Congressman Del Latta, who knew every hamlet and every crossroads in his district.

Robin Weirauch is the approachable and accessible candidate in this race and she deserves election to Congress from the Fifth District.

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