By Michael D. Pittman, Staff Writer
BUTLER COUNTY —
Butler County will possibly see three new lawmakers representing parts of the county after November’s election.
Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., won a contentious three-way primary race on Tuesday and will again face Liberty Twp. Democrat Kathy Wyenandt, but this time it will be for the 4th Ohio Senate District seat.
For Lang’s current seat, the 52nd Ohio House District, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Jennifer Gross will compete against West Chester Twp. Democrat Chuck Horn to represent those in West Chester, Liberty and parts of Fairfield Twp.
The 53rd Ohio House District, which represents the northern portions of Butler County from Oxford and Hanover Twp. to Middletown will see a pair of locally elected officials. Madison Twp. Trustee Thomas Hall, a Republican, will face off with Middletown School Board member Michelle Novak, a Democrat.
Lang bested Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown — who represents the 53rd Ohio House District — and West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong earning 49.5 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results.
Lang looks forward to the Nov. 3 general election rematch, calling Wyenandt “genuinely a good person.”
Lang has pushed for the “West Chester model” to be applied to the state during his time in Columbus, which started in September 2017 following his House appointment. His “business-first” message hasn’t changed since he first sought political office 20 years ago.
Lang said the extended election was tougher than the normal grind of campaigning, but said, “It makes me appreciate my team and my wife even more.”
Wyenandt said she looks forward “to a healthy exchange of ideas” with Lang “now that the long and noisy primary” is over.
“It’s time to focus on what matters most to families here in Butler County — jobs and the economy, healthcare, especially now, and supporting our schools,” she said.
Ohio’s 4th Senate District consists of most of Butler County.
With Keller’s primary loss, her term as an Ohio House representative ends in December.
Hall defeated two opponents, Monroe School Board member Brett Guido and Calvary Church pastor Diane Mullins with 44.6 percent of the vote for the GOP nomination for the 53rd Ohio House seat, according to the unofficial election results. Novak ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
“The work starts now,” said Hall, calling the primary win “definitely more sweet because I know the work myself and my team put in.”
Part of the transition to a November campaign, Hall said they’ll focus on ideas to help get the economy restarted amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“More important than winning, it’s about representing the people of this district and being able to serve them in Columbus,” he said.
Novak said the uncertainty of knowing who her November opponent was until Tuesday never changed her campaign efforts. She called the decision to delay Election Day by six weeks “a wise choice” and said November’s election will likely have a unique look.
“We don’t know what things are going to look like (in November), but things will probably look different moving forward,” she said. “There’s going to be different challenges and we’re addressing the challenges as we learn more.”
The 52nd House District represents Liberty and West Chester townships and parts of Fairfield Twp.
Gross and Horn will seek to win the 52nd Ohio House seat in November. Gross bested West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch on Tuesday, earning 49.5 percent of the unofficial vote to be the GOP’s nominee. Horn was unopposed.
Gross said she’s “very humbled” to win in what she called a tough race against Welch, who had both name recognition and the Butler County GOP’s endorsement.
“Now we roll up our sleeves,” she said. “We need to take care of Ohio.”
Horn said considering the novel coronavirus crisis, “we need responsible government more than ever to make sure that help gets to working people and the most vulnerable. Not the friends of the powerful.”
Horn said Gov. Mike DeWine “is standing up with solid leadership in spite of a lack of needed support from the legislature with regard to safety.” He calls the Ohio House Republican Caucus “openly hostile to the governor’s efforts” and calls for “better representation in the Ohio House.”