LIMA — During his last decade spent on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jim Jordan has been able to channel the sort of political outrage felt by many small-town conservatives, and because of it, his approval ratings in the district have kept him from needing to spend much to defend his seat.
In 2020, his challengers are hoping to change that.
Here’s an overview of the candidates.
Rep. Jim Jordan
For residents in the 4th District, Jordan is a known commodity due to his consistency. He’s even been re-using the same campaign slogan for years.
“I’ve told you this many times before. I think we make the job of an elected official way too complicated. It’s pretty basic. What did you tell the folks you were going to do when you ran for the job? If they give you the privilege to go serve them, their family, their business, their community in the United States Congress, do what you said. I have done that,” Jordan said.
What that means, however, requires a little parsing. On the House floor, Jordan is known nationally for the often-confrontational way he talks to congressional witnesses, and he gained the seat of the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee partially due to his high-profile questionings.
On the legislative front, however, he rarely writes policy.
Instead, Jordan spends much of his time playing defense for the Republican Party as others push initiatives forward. As of the latest election cycle, he raised over $9 million for the Republican party — a record for Jordan — and on the campaign trail, he often celebrates President Donald Trump’s accomplishments and attacks the policies of the “radical left.”
As for his initiatives if elected, Jordan emphasized that he’s going to keep doing what he’s been doing on Capitol if he’s elected, which he said was fighting for conservative values.
“I told you, if you elect me, I’m going to work for lower taxes. We cut taxes. If you’d elect me, I’m going to fight to protect the sanctity of human life. We worked to do that. We’re going to reduce regulations so that our businesses and small business owners and economy can flourish and grow. It was doing all that. We did reduce regulation. … You guys know me. I’ve been your representative for a long time. You know, I give it to you straight,” Jordan said.
In the future, he said he’d like to see the government continue to focus on these values in order to give the economy a boost during the pandemic.
“This virus is tough, and it is serious. We understand that. We got to focus on the things, the fundamentals that allow the economy to grow and flourish. It was so strong, and you’re still seeing strong signs,” Jordan said.
During last week’s debate, however, Jordan rarely talked straight policy. Instead, Jordan used most of his responses to give warning to the “radical left” that he says will silence conservative voices, push socialism and destroy America.
“The radical left who says we want to defund the police. The radical left who says they want to take away 180 million Americans health insurance. The radical left who supports the Green New Deal, which is one of the craziest policies next in place to defunding the police. Maybe the second craziest policy I’ve ever seen. So that’s who we’re talking about. These are members of Congress,” Jordan said.
As the Democratic candidate against Jordan, Shannon Freshour has a lot of ground to cover to beat him at the polls.
And like other first-time candidates running for Congress, she’s depending on healthcare and her story to help her punch holes in the Republican’s defense of the Trump administration.
“The reason that I am part of this race is because I want to ensure that we have people who are protecting jobs and protecting the economy and protecting workers and ensuring that workers have the benefits to survive, that they have health care, that they have retired pensions, that Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security aren’t sacrificed to billionaire tax cuts,” Freshour said.
During her introduction, Freshour also highlighted her own roots. As one of the first generations to benefit from the government-funded Head Start program, Freshour said the extra help enabled her and her family to escape poverty and place her on an upward path. She now works as a litigation paralegal, and has a master’s degree in American government.
As for Freshour’s platform, much of it aligns with Joe Biden’s Build Back Better economic plans and emphasizes the need to increase education and vocational funding in order to boost the economy.
“One of the key things that (manufacturers) keep saying is they need good skilled labor. And we can do that if we work on having school districts that have good vocational programs, and that we could make targeted tax breaks, so that people can bring jobs. And so that we ensure that these things are happening, but we need people to actually do those jobs,” Freshour said.
She contests that politicians like Jordan haven’t moved the bar on such initiatives because he’s no longer serving constituents.
“We are in a crisis now. And we need people who are going to be serious, who aren’t going to sit up here and talk about conspiracy theories and nonsense and how they can fight to protect the president. That doesn’t make your life better. It doesn’t save your life. It doesn’t help your children get a better education,” Freshour said. “These are the things that a representative of the fourth district needs to focus on. And that’s what I am focused on.”
Libertarian candidate Steve Perkins is a little sick of the squabbles between Republicans and Democrats, and he’s pretty sure so is everyone else.
An educator from Pataskala, Perkins has had little limelight in the 4th race, and he says that’s mostly by design. During the latest debate between Freshour and Jordan, Perkins didn’t get a seat on stage despite asking for one. He’s also had issues getting representation in media.
But he still sees a path to winning the 4th district, and like Libertarians before him, he’s working on doing it through highlighting the hypocrisy of the current system.
“If you remove Democrats from the equation, Jim Jordan doesn’t have anything to talk about. If you remove Republicans, Freshour has nothing to talk about except for welfare programs,” he said.
Instead, he said the current political climate has become something that the founding fathers long warned about — a two-party system bogged down in partisan gamesmanship. Neither side stands by their ideals, and the country’s election positions are now full of “hypocrites calling hypocrites hypocrites.”
As for policy initiatives, Perkins recognizes that there’s a lot standing between the current system and the type of libertarian government he’d like to see. Basically, to get to that point — where government is so limited that it plays a much reduced role in everyday life — he knows that major governing philosophies will need to change, but he does have some ideas that could be implemented right away.
For example, he’d like the government to stop drumming up fervor over China and provoking trade wars. The tariffs put on trade are paid by the American consumer, and there’s billions of dollars being given to farmers in order help them during an unnecessary crisis. He’d also like to see an end to the war on drugs, which has largely been ineffective and costly, he said.
He’s also worried about the national debt, and he’s seen no proof that any politicians actually care about it, he said. Even when Republicans largely controlled the power of the purse and headed the White House, the Trump administration ended up adding $8.3 trillion to the national debt, which puts him on track to easily eclipse the $9 trillion added by Obama if Trump were to win a second term.
“The majority of the country is libertarian-learning, but they’re so sucked into the ‘us versus them,’ they can’t see straight,” Perkins said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 456-242-0398.