Ohio voters oust Rep. Schmidt, yet people continue to degrade “Mean Jean”

Photo: A head shot of U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, an older white woman with dark hair wearing a black suit jacket. Photo source: Google Images Jean_Schmidt_Official

U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt | Google Images

In a surprising upset, incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt lost the Republican primary for the Ohio 2nd Congressional district to political newbie Brad Wenstrup, who took home 49 percent of the vote. Wenstrup’s first political campaign was in 2009, when he unsuccessfully challenged Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.

The second district spans the Ohio River from the east side of Cincinnati to the western edge of Appalachia. I grew up in Loveland, the heart of the district and Schmidt’s hometown. It’s the 57th most conservative district in the nation, and second in Ohio only to Rep. Jim Jordan‘s district (coincidentally, where my bestie grew up). Democrats almost never run a series challenger to the winner of the Republican nomination.

I pretty much despise all things Schmidt thinks are good, like limiting access to abortion services and birth control, deregulating the financial industry, defining marriage constitutionally as between one man and one woman, and making the USA PATRIOT Act permanent. Not that her replacement will probably be much different.

Schmidt won a special election in 2005, making her the first woman to represent southern Ohio in Congress. For her bold (and often misguided) statements, she has garnered the nickname “Mean Jean” among other choice monikers, which is a misogynistic blow not only to Schmidt but to all tenacious woman leaders. While I disagree with her politics, she really doesn’t say or do anything different than the boys she runs with in the Grand Old Party, yet people think she’s a bitch because she’s an outspoken woman. It’s okay to disagree with her. It’s okay to denounce her politics. It’s not okay to degrade her because she is a woman.

Schmidt faced a tough primary in 2006 from former Rep. Bob McEwen, but has not had a serious challenge from within her party since.

“I’m honored that the voters heard our message of change,” Wenstrup wrote in a statement. “Change that includes strong, ethical leadership. Change that also includes reforming government, cutting spending and unleashing small business owners so they can create jobs.”

Former U.S. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy also lost her primary to former Ohio House minority leader Joyce Beatty in the Democratic primary for Ohio’s new 3rd district. Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur defeated fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the 9th District, a loss that will likely bring the longtime liberal congressman’s Capitol Hill career to an end. Kaptur will face off against Joe the Plumber in November.

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