Heimlich bows out of 2nd District race
UPDATED. 1:40 p.m.
Former Hamilton County commissioner Phil Heimlich has ended his bid to unseat Rep. Jean Schmidt in the 2nd Congressional District primary.
In an e-mail release Wednesday morning, Heimlich cited two reasons for his withdrawal - the Hamilton County Republican Party’s endorsement of Schmidt last Friday and the recent entry of State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr. into the race.
"Mr. Brinkman’s candidacy serves no purpose other than to assure Representative Schmidt’s re-nomination,’’ Heimlich said in the news release. "There is no reason to put the Republican Party through a tough primary battle when victory isn’t possible."
Barry Bennett, Schmidt’s congressional chief of staff, said Schmidt "considers Phil a good Republican with a lot to offer the party in the future."
Friday night, the Hamilton County Republican Party’s executive committee passed over two Hamilton County Republicans - Heimlich and Brinkman - to endorse Schmidt, a Clermont County Republican. The vote was not close - Schmidt was the favorite of 69 members, while Heimlich had 33 votes and Brinkman 5.
Heimlich – who entered the congressional race after losing his county commission seat to David Pepper in 2006 - told the Enquirer Wednesday morning that he had no real expectation of picking up the county party endorsement in Hamilton County – or any of the other six counties in the 2nd Congressional District.
"County party organizations have a tendency to back the incumbent, even when it is to the detriment of the party,’’ said Heimlich.
Heimlich had put together a formidable campaign organization, complete with paid staff and a slick campaign website. Through last fall, he had raised more money than Schmidt. He said Wednesday that his campaign had raised about $350,000.
Some of that money, Heimlich said, would be used to pay campaign staff and outstanding bills. The rest, he said, he would keep in his campaign account "for opportunities that may come up in future years."
Heimlich said he will ask election officials in all seven counties of the 2nd Congressional District to remove his name from the March 4 primary ballot.
Heimlich’s withdrawal means that Schmidt will face two opponents in the March 4 primary – Brinkman and Nathan Bailey, little-known Republican from Stonelick Township in Clermont County.
Heimlich's full statement:
Ever since the endorsement decision was made by the Hamilton County Republican Executive Committee on Friday, I have been discussing the future of my campaign with my wife, my family, my advisors and many of my supporters.
In light of the outcome of the Hamilton County endorsement, and with the late entry of Tom Brinkman into the race, I am announcing today the end of my candidacy for Congress.
Mr. Brinkman’s candidacy serves no purpose other than to assure Representative Schmidt’s renomination. There is no reason to put the Republican Party through a tough primary battle when victory isn't possible. To do so would only lead to the ultimate benefit of the Democratic Party and its liberal agenda.
I offer my heartfelt thanks to all the donors, volunteers and grassroots activists who supported our effort to keep this district in Republican hands. Their generosity and commitment will always be deeply appreciated.
Finally, I am requesting the various Boards of Elections within the district remove my name from the primary ballot if possible
Here is Brinkman's statement
Mr. Heimlich's departure from the race this morning has radically altered the election-day landscape, giving Tom Brinkman more volunteers, more money, and more attention - in short, all of the things a campaign needs to win. If Republicans in the 2nd District want a candidate who will control spending, limit government, and take a stand for life and liberty, Tom Brinkman is the clear choice, and his record proves it.
"The news today doesn't change the fact that I am still the challenger in this race," Brinkman said, "but my record, after having twice earned the "Most Principled Legislator" title in Ohio gives me a clear advantage, and I will work tirelessly to earn that same title in Washington."
Tom Brinkman was twice given the honor of "Most Principled Legislator" by fellow legislators, members of the media, and government staff, and is making that honor the centerpiece of his campaign.