WEST CHESTER, Ohio (AP) — Republican Warren Davidson is assured of being western Ohio's congressman for the next seven months, and is likely to be serving for years afterward.
Davidson handily won Tuesday's low-turnout special election to succeed former House Speaker John Boehner in the 8th House District. Speaker Paul Ryan is preparing to swear him in later this week in Washington; details were pending Wednesday.
"Welcome, Warren, we look forward to working with you to get our country back on track," Ryan said in his message to Davidson, whose district includes Ryan's alma mater, Miami University.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said just below 6 percent of the district's 471,273 registered voters cast ballots, and Butler County elections director Diane Noonan said she was surprised at the low turnout given the importance of winning a seat in Congress.
No other races or issues were on Tuesday's ballot, and voter awareness of the special election appeared to be low after a high-profile GOP primary, when Davidson won dual races for the special election and general election nominations.
Davidson will complete Boehner's term and be an odds-on favorite to win the general election for a full term in the next Congress. Ohio's districts are incumbent-friendly.
Boehner also sent a message of congratulations to the 46-year-old Army Ranger veteran, saying he knows Davidson will "serve honorably" in Congress, as he did in the Army. Following a quarter-century in Congress and nearly five years in the speaker's chair, Boehner announced his resignation in September.
Tuesday, Davidson captured 77 percent of the vote with all precincts reporting from the six western Ohio counties, according to unofficial returns. It is Davidson's first election to office, after he topped a 15-candidate primary field in the heavily Republican district Boehner first won in 1990.
Vote tallies Wednesday unofficially showed Davidson had 21,537 votes, about half the total he garnered to win the March primary. Democrat Corey Foister had 5,904 votes, or 21 percent, and Green Party candidate Jim Condit Jr. had about 2 percent with 604 votes.
"I view serving the Congress as a return to active duty," Davidson, a businessman and married father of two, said in a statement. "The real work starts now."
Davidson got key support in March from some former Boehner antagonists, such as Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and the conservative advocacy groups Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. Davidson has said people in the district considered it "an honor" to have the speaker from their home area, but that they are ready to have "our own representative" in Washington.
A FreedomWorks statement said the 8th District "will finally have a principled conservative representing them."
Boehner defeated a scandal-marred Republican incumbent in the 1990 primary, and then won re-election, often with wide margins, every two years since his first election. Before announcing his resignation, Boehner was beset by intractable divisions between the party's pragmatists and purists, but those will now be Ryan's to resolve.
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