Congress: Dailey, Gibbs fight for lead in GOP's 18th

May 5, 2010

An unpredictable race in a crowded field of candidates seeking the 18th Congressional District Republican nomination was coming down to the wire last night between former state agriculture director Fred Dailey and state Sen. Bob Gibbs.

With more than 90 percent of the vote counted, it appeared likely that either Dailey or Gibbs would emerge as the challenger for Democrat Rep. Zack Space in November. Only one of the six other GOP candidates, Jeanette Moll, a lawyer from Zanesville, was within striking distance, according to unofficial results from the Ohio secretary of state’s office.

Gibbs, 55, of Lakeville, a farmer, businessman and first-term senator, and Dailey, 65, a cattle farmer from Mount Vernon who lost to Space two years ago, ran in front of a GOP field that included several Tea Party candidates. With backing from Republican sources in Washington, D.C., Gibbs raised twice as much campaign cash as Dailey.

Both Dailey and Gibbs, in interviews just after midnight, said the race was too close to call. They added: “There’ll be a recount.”

In other races:

15th District – Republican Steve Stivers won the right to a rematch against Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy by defeating John Adams of Upper Arlington and Ralph Applegate, of the neighboring 12th Congressional District.

12th District – Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi, 47, ousted little-known opponent Andrew Zukowski, 64, in his bid for a sixth term. He will face Democrat Paula Brooks, a Franklin County commissioner, as well as the winner of a close Constitution Party primary and a Libertarian Party candidate.

7th District – Incumbent Republican Steve Austria, 51, of Beavercreek, easily beat back a challenge from former Air Force officer John Mitchel, 62, of Beavercreek.

Space, 49, of Dover, was unopposed in the Democrat primary. He won about 60 percent of the vote in the Republican-leaning 18th district in both his first election in 2006 and his 2008 re-election.

The Republican contest in the 18th District was a wild affair, with several of the candidates scoring victories in different counties in the far-flung district. Dailey captured Knox, his home county, and Jackson; Gibbs won his home county, Holmes, as well as Coshocton and Ross; Moll won in Athens, Muskingum and Tuscarawas, and former state Rep. Ron Hood captured Carroll and Hocking counties.

Moll, 45, was one of the strongest challengers from the Tea Party faction. She ran unsuccessfully for the GOP 18th District nomination two years ago.

“We ran a really good grass-roots campaign, and I’m proud of what my team did,” Moll said. “Whoever the winner is, the goal is going to be to go against Zack Space, who is a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.”

In the 15th District, Stivers, a former state senator who lost a close race to Kilroy two years ago, said last night that his primary victory is “more of a beginning than an end. But it’s a good jumping off point.

“I’m knocking on Republican doors and independent doors, and the Republicans and independents are ready to turn this country around,” Stivers said.

He predicted that the biggest issues of the fall campaign against Kilroy will be federal spending and jobs.

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