Democrat leaves race, endorses Republican

State representative seat for Springfield area opening because of term limits.

A Democratic Ohio House seat hopeful is dropping out of the 79th District race and announced plans to endorse the remaining declared Republican candidate.

Mike Walters, a 2000 graduate of Tecumseh High School, who had served on the central and executive committees for the Clark County Democratic Party, told the Springfield News-Sun that he decided to drop out of the race to focus on his family and his studies at Clark State Community College.

Walters also endorsed Republican challenger Kyle Koehler instead of Democrat Darrell Jackson.

The Ohio House seat will be open in next year’s election. Koehler is the lone Republican to officially declare for the seat so far.

State Rep. Ross McGregor, a Springfield Republican now in his fifth term in the Ohio legislature, is unable to run for re-election because of term limits. He defeated Democrat David Herier in the 2012 election.

The 79th House district includes Springfield, New Carlisle, Enon and South Charleston.

“I’ve taken a bi-partisan approach to this and compared Kyle and Darrell, and I think Kyle is more suitable for the position,” Walters said.

Koehler said he was humbled by the endorsement.

As a member of the Democratic executive and central committees, Walters helped organize and canvass for other local candidates.

Walters told the News-Sun that his decision to support Koehler is due in part to Koehler’s experience as a business owner.

Koehler is part owner of K.K. Tool Co. in Springfield.

“That type of success needs to be brought to the state level,” Walters said.

Walters said he and Koehler don’t agree on all issues but have similar ideas on bringing jobs to Ohio by offering businesses tax credits.

Jackson, a Stebbins graduate, is a long-time county resident.

The first-time candidate is being endorsed by the Clark County Democratic Party, according to party chairman Dale Henry.

Jackson has said that he hopes to work to bring people together at the statehouse, if elected. During his career, he negotiated the contracts between the sheriff’s union and the county for more than 20 years and said he looked at the big picture during negotiations.

He believes bi-partisanship is the only way to get things accomplished.

“I’m good about working with people,” Jackson said. “I want to help solve problems instead of create problems. I’m good at working with everybody to create a solution to a problem.”

Jackson plans to focus on jobs, family and the community.

“We must continue to work hard to make the region an attractive place to live, work, attract businesses and raise a family,” Jackson said.

Walters said he decided not to support Jackson because he doesn’t think Jackson knows how to create jobs.

“He hasn’t had that job creation experience, and I believe he would take more of a union approach, and I think it would hurt the economy,” Walters said.

Jackson said Walters’ comments about his approach to job creation were based on assumptions as he and Walters do not know each other personally.

Asked about Walters’ decision to drop out of the race and endorse Koehler, Jackson said: “That’s his choice to drop out, and it’s his choice to endorse whoever he wants to. But if he would have stayed in the race, and if he would have won, I would have endorsed him.”