Congresswoman Jean Schmidt will face three challengers in Tuesday’s Republican primary, two of whom are new to the political arena.
The Republican incumbent is running against Warren County Commissioner C. Michael Kilburn, Tim Martz, and Debbi Alsfelder.
Alsfelder, of Mariemont, began working for the firm Price, Waterhouse and Peatmawick as a Certified Public Accountant in 1987 and earned her law degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1991. She also serves on the Junior League of Cincinnati and has been president of the volunteer organization. She has four children. Her three sons each graduated from West Point.
"The day I took office Warren County was broke," Kilburn said. "Today our county treasurer has over $200 million in his invested portfolio. We built a new jail, we built a new detention center, we built a new administration building, we built a new courts building and we paid cash. Our general fund has no debt."
Martz, of Indian Hill is a relative new comer to the area. He has spent the last 10 years as an account manager for Lykins Oil in the second district.
Schmidt started her political career as a Monroe Township Trustee and has served as a state Representative in the General Assembly. She was elected to Congress in a special election in 2005 to fill the seat vacated by Rob Portman when he was appointed as the U.S. Trade Representative by George W. Bush.
When asked why she decided to run for Congress, Alsfelder responds with what seems to be the theme of the 2010 election cycle - she's not happy with the direction the country is headed.
"Our soldiers are overseas doing whatever we asked of them to defend our freedom but we're not protecting those rights at home," Alsfelder said. "I feel that my background makes me uniquely suited to make a difference."
Kilburn said that while he endorsed Jean Schmidt in her first bid for Congress, he now believes that the Republicans and Democrats have since lost their way.
"The founders did not intend for career politicians to go to Washington, get their face in the feed trough, and stay there for 30 years," Kilburn said. "I will not celebrate my 62nd birthday in Washington, I'm going to leave after six years and come home."
Martz also said he feels that the second district is not getting the representation it deserves.
Alsfelder said she believes all members of congress should use a three part test before deciding to vote on any piece of legislation.
"I will ask, is it constitutional?" Alsfelder said. "If it is, do we need it? If we do, can we afford it?"
Alsfelder said expanding the federal government will only hurt the struggling economy.
"We need a balanced budget that reduces our debt," Alsfelder said. "Government can't provide long term job growth. They can facilitate jobs, they cannot provide them."
Kilburn's plan to fix the economy is also to shrink the size of the government and give small businesses incentive to create new jobs.
"I'm going to fight to bring back what's good for this country, and that's a competitive spirit with a capitalistic model that rewards people for working hard and doing good," Kilburn said. "And the rest will take care of itself."
Kilburn has proposed a complete restructuring of the nations' tax code. He has suggested eliminating the corporate income tax and capital gains tax and introduce a flat tax or fair tax. Under a flat tax every person in the country would pay the same percentage in taxes. Kilburn suggested 10 percent.
"Start out at 10 percent and see where it goes," Kilburn said. "If that isn't enough, move it up a little bit. Government isn't rocket science, but people want to make it difficult so not everyone can participate."
Martz also thinks businesses looking to locate in the second district should be given tax incentives. He has also suggested a plan to provide faster, safer transportation through the second district that would make it easier for businesses to locate within the district. Martz is proposing that the federal government should take over state Route 32 and U.S. 35 and U.S. 50 where they intersect S.R. 32 and convert it into an extension of Interstate 74 that would stretch from Cincinnati to I-77 in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
"There doesn't seem to be any plan or direction for the second district from our current representative," Martz said. "One of the things I think is central to the development of the second district is to turn Route 32...into I-74. Without Interstate access we have been trying to get economic development in this district for years and I don't think that's happening."
Martz said he wants local zoning to control the development and introduce legislation to preserve the tobacco and livestock farming the the eastern portion of the district.
Bruce Pfaff, communications director for Jean Schmidt's office, said the Congresswoman will focus her economic recovery efforts on getting a handle on out of control government spending. He said the bailouts were not successful and have not delivered the jobs promised. Pfaff also said the congresswoman has not made any effort to bring stimulus money to the district. He said she wrote a letter expressing her support of ABC Construction when they applied for funds for a job training program but the letter only stated that ABC is a quality organization that creates jobs in the district.
Every Republican in the primary opposes the health care reform bill passed in Congress, including Jean Schmidt. Alsfelder and Kilburn agree that the measure is unconstitutional while Martz said two or three items in the bill were good ideas.
Martz said health insurance should not be allowed to be canceled, patients with preexisting conditions should not be denied, and new prescription drugs should be brought on the market sooner.
"To force people into insurance, and somehow down the road this is going to lead to a government take over, I don't want that and I don't think the people of this district want it," Martz said.
Schmidt voted against the health care bill and was very outspoken against the method by which it was passed.
Alsfelder and Martz both said there biggest strength is they are not career political politicians and they, along with Kilburn, cited their work in the private sector as positives.
"I'm not a career politician and I don't owe any political favors to anybody," Martz said. "I'm going to go to Washington and absolutely represent the people of the second district and what they want and what's best for the second district, what's best for the country, and I will always follow the constitution."
"My biggest strength is my strong conservative views of the constitution," Alsfelder said.
Kilburn said he wants voters to know that he will always tell the truth.
"I just tell it the way I think it is," Kilburn said. "Voters should want someone who is passionate about something and the thing I passionately believe in is that government can't do all things for all people."
Pfaff said the Congresswoman is continuing to work for the second district and appreciates the support the district has showed her over the years.
"She is working hard to represent the values of the second district and she has a good conservative voting record," Pfaff said.