For those looking for an alternative to Ohio’s 5th Congressional District Rep. Bob Latta, voters will have three Democratic options to choose from during Ohio’s March 17 primary.
Nearing $100,000 raised, Nick Rubando’s campaign has been able to gain some momentum since the young candidate decided to challenge Latta.
Originally from Holland, Ohio, Rubando got his start in politics when he began organizing for President Barack Obama’s campaign during his undergraduate years at Indiana University. At the time, his parents had been hit hard by the Great Recession, and his mother couldn’t find a good health insurance plan because of her pre-existing condition.
Consequently, when Obama won the presidency — due in part to Rubando’s efforts to flip Indiana blue — and helped pass the Affordable Care Act, Rubando said he saw politics as a way to be a positive force in people’s lives.
“I was able to see how the small steps we all take can lead to changing the lives of millions of Americans,” Rubando said.
After college Rubando moved to Los Angeles to work at a tech-startup where he fell into political organizing for a second time. When he moved back home, it only seemed natural that he jumped into the political arena again after seeing some of the issues facing the residents of the 5th district. Rubando named toxic algae blooms, the opioid crisis and consolidation of the farm industry as some examples.
“I was really surprised at the time that no one was organizing a strong campaign. With encouragement, I decided to run myself,” Rubando said. “I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge.”
As for his politics, Rubando has been endorsed by Brand New Congress — the same progressive group that helped Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez win her New York election in 2018 — and his platform suggests similar messages as the freshman representative.
Rubando said the “overarching theme” of his campaign is to get the influence of money out of politics, and he pointed to his opponent for introducing bills that sometimes help the corporations that donate to Latta’s campaign.
Other top issues include health care and environmental concerns. On the policy front, Rubando endorsed single payer healthcare as “the best option to drive down the cost of prescription drugs and make sure every American is covered,” and he encouraged giving a stronger role to the Environmental Protection Agency to help deal with algae blooms.
“One family has run this district for the last 60 years. Latta has been there for 12 years. If you want something to change in Washington, you need an outsider to run for office,” Rubando said.
Aligning himself with democratic socialism, Xavier Carrigan is running a campaign in line with the platform proposed by presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Carrigan said he’s not afraid of the socialist label arguing that the word has been largely misconstrued over decades due to the country’s “Red Scare” tendencies. Instead, Carrigan highlighted the economic successes of Scandinavian countries that have incorporated principles of socialism into capitalistic systems.
An example of encouraging socialistic principles in the U.S. economy would be helping individuals move toward embracing worker co-op business structures. Carrigan said he sees the co-op structure as the natural evolution of unions.
“What I really want to focus on during my tenure in office is worker co-ops,” Carrigan said. “I want to empower workers to start taking charge or taking the lead in their own employment.”
While some Democrats may argue against a self-proclaimed democratic socialist’s ability to win in a heavily conservative district, Carrigan said that he has spent a lot of time talking politics with individuals from all corners of the political spectrum, and when the conversation allows him to really dive into the issues, most people end up leaving the conversation agreeing with his ideas.
“Within 10 minutes, their tune completely changes. I’m talking about Trump supporters and Republicans. Objectivity and the truth — facts are everything. They are the cornerstone of my campaign,” Carrigan said.
As for Carrigan’s work history, it’s difficult to pinpoint any single career. Born and raised in Bowling Green, Carrigan currently works as a truck driver, but he has worked as a disc jockey as well as a bilingual educator in other countries. Over the years, Carrigan said he’s held at least 50 different jobs, and many have included working class experiences.
“When I say represent the working class, I really mean it, because I’ve really been in your shoes,” he said.
“Being a trucker, I spend a lot of time speaking to conservatives, even some of these hard core right wingers. When you have (a conversation) in a good fashion, people start to realize we’re all on the same team.”
Out of the three Democratic candidates, the hardest to pinpoint politically is Gene Redinger. While still leaning on a progressive platform, Redinger has a decidedly libertarian bend that differentiates him.
For example, Redinger supports pulling dollars out of the political system by overturning Citizens United and ending some government programs like the war on drugs, and his platform also encourages some progressive policies such as the Green New Deal, single payer universal healthcare, increasing education funding and drastically expanding on labor rights, such as introducing a 30-hour work week.
“If you asked any working citizen, ‘Hey, would you work a 30-hour-week if can take the same paycheck?’ Having that as part of the political discussion sets me apart,” Redinger said.
What also sets Redinger apart is his career and skill set. As a certified ethical hacker, Redinger said he has the technical knowledge of many of the digital systems changing the day-to-day lives of Americans, and that know-how would enable him to write in-depth policies that can implement fixes on widespread digital problems, such as cybersecurity threats, robocall scamming and e-commerce security.
“It’s hard to define me in political terms,” Redinger said. “We see that the compass is shifting depending on where you fit. Overall, I’m a little more left than the general public.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.