The Republican primary race in the 14th congressional district between State Rep. Matt Lynch and Congressman Dave Joyce has been one of the most contested — and contentious — of this year’s primary. It’s a story of the Tea Party vs. the Republican establishment. Endorsements vs. PAC money. Ideology vs. pragmatism. David vs. Goliath.
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On Goliath’s side is Congressman Dave Joyce, whom many say was handpicked by Steve LaTourette to succeed him upon his retirement from Congress (an assertion that has become a point of contention in this race). Joyce is heavily supported by traditional establishment Republican groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Republican Party, but also by the American Hospital Association and Steve LaTourette’s Mainstreet PAC, which is largely funded by Democrats and labor organizations. LaTourette’s group, which months ago declared war on the Tea Party and other conservative groups, has poured more than $80,000 into Joyce’s re-election campaign. Lynch, on the other hand, has received support and endorsements from FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots and most of the conservative advocacy groups in the state, including Ohio Right to Life and Ohioans for Educational Freedom.
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The fundraising has been completely lopsided with Joyce raising $1.6 million in addition to $511,000 in outside expenditures. Lynch has raised $90,000 with $62,000 in outside spending.
Adding to the drama, Matt Lynch says that Steve LaTourette’s daughter, Sarah LaTourette Kayser, is the one who prompted him to challenge Joyce when she filed to run against him for his seat in the Ohio House. Lynch said that her move signaled the end of the Ohio Republican Party’s de facto rule against challenging incumbents.
Each man claims he is the true conservative in the race, despite that Dave Joyce currently has only a 49% rating by Heritage Action, which measures the conservatism of congressmen. This rating puts Joyce 16 percentage points behind the House Republican average of 65% and a whopping 46 percentage points behind Ohio’s most conservative Congressman, Jim Jordan.
The main differences between their strategies for accomplishing their policy goals came to light in the candidates’ recent endorsement interview with the Plain Dealer. The newspaper included very little of the interview in their endorsement article, though the full audio is available at its website.
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In the interview, the candidates diverged sharply on how to solve problems in Congress. Joyce thinks that “if we stop talking at each other and start talking to each other then we can talk about those things we agree on, like reducing the deficit, like controlling our spending.” He added,
“But when you ramp up the rhetoric you’re never going to have the opportunity to have the discussion in the first place that will bring about any type of meaningful change.”
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Lynch, on the other hand, said courage is needed to stand up for Republican principles:
“It’s not a question of simply saying we’re going to work with the other side…. Bipartisanship as a goal in and of itself serves no purpose at all unless you’re serving the greater good — the greater principle involved.”
Lynch added that we can have bipartisanship to reduce spending, for example, “but then we must have the courage to stand up for that.” He said it was a mistake for the current Congress to give the president “unlimited use of his federal credit card.”
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During the interview the candidates sparred over the role of Steve LaTourette’s Mainstreet Partnership PAC in the campaign. Lynch asserted that Joyce is a member of “Mainstreet Partners,” which is helping to fund his campaign, noting that the group has vowed to attack conservatives — even while Congressman Joyce is promoting himself as a conservative. Joyce denied that he is a member of LaTourette’s group, saying, “Mainstreet Partnership is not a group it’s a PAC, which provides briefing papers on things like healthcare and other things they provide, just like these other organizations do.” Joyce said that LaTourette, his friend for thirty years, has been very kind to him, but that Lynch was wrong:
“It’s not an organization in which we’re card-carrying members.”
Lynch shot back,
“It’s almost comical that the Congressman talks about he’s not a member of Mainstreet Partners — you go on their website and you’ll see his picture there with a couple of dozen other members on the website, so he is absolutely part of Mainstreet Partners and a member of that organization.”
[Note: Joyce is listed on the Republican Mainstreet Partnership PAC “Members” page]
Lynch and Joyce also parted ways on bringing federal dollars back to the district. Joyce applauded Steve LaTourette for his work on the Great Lakes Asian carp problem and said he has continued that work. “I thought it was very important to stand up for it and I’ve done that in on approps — those of us who are on appropriations,” he said.
“Last year we’d sit around and realize I’m on a committee that’s not doing anything. And now all of a sudden we’re back so we’ve got a chance to do some bigger things.”
Lynch said that while he thought the Asian carp project was important, the budget should determine whether or not we fund such projects.
“One thing we cannot do is create new projects with new spending. But to the extent that we can begin to reduce the size of government … reduce our spending and target the spending into the Great Lakes and others that might be beneficial, I’m absolutely all for that,” said Lynch.
He added, “But to layer on new spending cannot be done, because in the end, none of this will matter if we go off of that fiscal cliff.”
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While both candidates disagreed with President Obama’s use of executive orders as it relates to Obamacare, they disagreed with each other on how to stop him. Joyce said that Attorney General Eric Holder should “step in and say that’s not the law.” He said efforts to enforce the Affordable Care Act through the judicial branch have gone nowhere, adding,
“And so the idea would be to try to have meaningful discussions with people on the other side saying the president needs to come to the table.”
Lynch is far less tolerant of executive overreach and said that Congress can and should do something about the illegal executive orders:
“If that is any congressman’s opinion—that we have a president who is violating separation of powers, one of the bedrock principles of our constitutional government—then that congressman should be standing up and doing something about it and not merely shrugging our shoulders and hoping that we can change the balance of power in Congress in the next election.”
“We need to take our own oath seriously as elected officials to defend the Constitution.”
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Lynch believes that impeachment is ultimately the way to control the president’s overreach.
The two men also described the role of faith in their lives. Joyce talked about his Catholic upbringing and schooling, saying,
“It’s one thing to believe it, it’s another thing to live it. And that’s the way I try to live my life.”
To Lynch, faith is integral to his life and politics:
“My slogan is faith, family, and values and faith is very important to me, personally, and my faith really does inform many of my policy positions. I’ve often said that I’m a Christian because I believe in the Bible, I’m a conservative because I believe in the Constitution, and I’m a Republican because the Republican party is supposed to reflect those values.”
Lynch added that those values are under attack in many areas of society:
“The First Amendment was designed as a shield to prevent the intrusion of government into our faith life.” [Instead today] “it’s being used as a sword to actually attack people of faith.”
He vowed to be a strong defender of the right to exercise faith in all areas of life.
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There was a sharp contrast in the candidates’ closing statement as well. Joyce emphasized his hope that government spending will revive northeast Ohio’s economy:
“For every billion dollars spent in infrastructure that’s 35,000 jobs that are either created or retained in northeast Ohio and that’s important to us.”
Lynch sees a different route to prosperity, citing President Reagan in explaining the distinctions in the campaigns and “the bright, clear colors that represent faith, family, and freedom, which I believe in.” He added,
“The reality is that the conservative agenda, as shown by Ronald Reagan and others, is great policy. It’s the policy of prosperity. It’s the policy of jobs. It’s the policy of liberty. And those are the policies that I stand for, clearly and brightly, with no equivocation…. As long as we promote those policies we will not only have prosperity in this country, but we’ll have political success as well.”
Ultimately, the left-leaning Plain Dealer editorial board endorsed Dave Joyce, saying that his “willingness to work across the aisle has served his constituency well on issues that range from the federal budget to Great Lakes Restoration funding and the fight against encroaching Asian carp.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, Lynch appeared on the Glenn Beck program and received Ron Paul’s endorsement as well as another Ohio state conservative endorsement from Citizens for Community Values Action PAC.
The Republican primary is on Tuesday, May 6th.
Paula Bolyard describes herself as a Christian first, conservative second, and Republican third. She is a member of the Wayne County Executive Committee and is owner and moderator of the Ohio Homeschool Yahoo! Group. She is a contributor at PJ Media Lifestyle, PJ Media, and RedState.
All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.
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