Another special election is looming: this time, in Ohio. Republican Representative Pat Tiberi has announced that he will be leaving Congress, effective in January: a full year before the official end of his term.
Tiberi has stated that he plans to join–and possibly lead–the Ohio Business Roundtable, a group which conducts research and debate on areas that Ohio business leaders identify as economic priorities. He said that with this new position, he will be able to continue working on public policy but in a way that allows him to spend more time with his family. (Tiberi’s mother recently passed away, his father is ill, and he is married with four daughters.) Before he leaves office, Tiberi says that he hopes to complete President Trump’s tax-overhaul legislation.
With his departure, Representative Tiberi joins the ranks of many other Republican leaders who have recently decided to leave their congressional seats. This list includes Senator Bob Corker (Tennessee), Representative Charlie Dent (Pennsylvania), Representative Dave Reichert (Washington State), Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida), Representative Dave Trott (Michigan), and Representative Tim Murphy (Pennsylvania). Most have stated that they are leaving due to frustration at not being able to accomplish their agenda, despite Republicans having control of both houses of Congress and the presidency. Many have also expressed frustration at President Trump for undermining the goals of the Republican Congress.
Representative Tiberi’s departure is especially noteworthy for several reasons. Tiberi has served as an Ohio representative for 16 years. He was also an influential member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Tiberi now becomes the seventh Republican to leave the Committee since November. Many Ohioans considered him to be “unbeatable” in an election: as of the start of October, Tiberi already had $6.6 million in his re-election coffer.
Tiberi served as the representative for Ohio District 12, located in and around Columbus, the state capital. Despite the fact that the city of Columbus itself is heavily Democratic, District 12 is solidly Republican. Ohio Governor John Kasich, also a Republican, will now need to call for a special election to fill Tiberi’s seat. In the meantime, central Ohio Democrats are already mobilizing to produce a challenger. Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper praised grassroots organizers who have held Tiberi accountable for supporting the Republican health care plan and for being the mouthpiece for the controversial Trump agenda.
Protestors have demonstrated tirelessly outside of Tiberi’s Ohio office since Trump took office last November. Hundreds more have sent postcards and written editorials criticizing Tiberi for refusing to hold Town Hall meetings or hear the complaints of those he was elected to represent. Ohio Democrats are now rallying behind the hashtag #NoFreePass, meaning that they expect Tiberi’s replacement to do a better job than he did of standing up for the needs of all of District 12’s constituents.