Months ago I set up a Google alert for John Boehner to get a better feel for what he is — or is not — doing for the men and women he represents in Ohio’s 8th Congressional District. Using this approach I get a daily email, filled with 4-10 stories in which Boehner is mentioned. I have learned about everything from the nonsensical videos he released to his progression from “Wait until January” to vote on the War against the Islamic state to “Let’s vote now.”
But the most interesting item to me — is what’s missing — campaigning for re-election in the 8th Congressional District. Instead he is campaigning for fellow Republicans and looking forward to the apparently more important election in January when it will be decided if he remains Speaker of the House.
Despite the fact Preble County just had its single largest event of the year — the Pork Festival — an event which pulls in 125,000 attendees throughout the 8th district and beyond, Boehner did not need to make an appearance since the election victory is all but wrapped up.
But the disconnect between what the Speaker does, and what is happening inside his district is most evident when the national news flow is compared to the news flow ‘back home.’
Preble County Headlines
- On the front page of the county’s newspaper this week, the one that carries Boehner’s column, the main headline reads, “Meth Lab Discovery.” Meth is just one of the significant drug problems the county faces — heroin use is also on the rise.
- The secondary headline dives into the county’s financial situation as Preble County Commissioners discuss whether they can afford to build a $1 million dollar building at the county-owned and county-operated landfill. One commissioner says the price tag is too high especially since the bill — through a tax assessment — will be passed on to taxpayers and business owners.
But it’s the inside story that best shows the plight of Preble County. The article (Job and Family Services grant to fund training) talks about how Preble County is one of only 10 counties in the state to receive a $150.000 grant. According to the article, the money,
“will be used to help people who are on food assistance become more self-sufficient. More than 5,000 people in Preble County are on food assistance.”
That means, in a county of about 40,000 residents, one-fifth of its residents need assistance with the basic necessity of food. If you examine a 2013 report about Preble County from Job and Family Services, you will see the number correlates with another stat — 19 percent of the county’s children live in poverty.
Far removed from the poverty that afflicts a significant part of his Preble County constituents, Boehner’s week is filled more with the business of politics. The news flow indicates that Boehner does not campaign heavily in Preble County or other parts of the District because he doesn’t need to.
- Instead his eyes are set on the Republican Party at the national level. This week he started tossing around Jeb Bush’s name as presidential candidate for 2016.
- In other news:
- Boehner and fellow Ohioan Senator Rob Portman called for an outside probe of the Secret Service. Boehner said, “the more we discover, the clearer it becomes that the Secret Service is beset by a culture of complacency and incompetence.”
- Boehner downplayed a “possible GOP House mutiny” saying ‘very few” Republicans would vote against him in January’s election for Speaker of the House. Since he’s a money-making machine for the Republican Party, he’s probably right.
What is most interesting to me this election cycle is the reduced number of Boehner’s trademark green and white signs throughout the county possibly because only 62 percent of the county’s Republicans voted for him in the May primary — an all-time low.
So, as support appears to be waning for Boehner in this small rural county, can it make a difference?
With slightly more than 27,000 voters in Preble County, it won’t even create a ripple at the national level.