DAYTON – The race to take on Congressman Mike Turner in the fall heated up Tuesday as Democrat Theresa Gasper lined up key endorsements from Democratic leaders.
Gasper picked up the endorsement of several top Democratic office holders in Montgomery County, including Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, County Commissioner Dan Foley and others. The announcement came in the front yard of a home in the South Park, Dayton neighborhood where Gasper’s business, Full Circle Development, has been restoring vacant homes.
Gasper is in a three-way primary contest in the 10th Congressional district with fellow Democrats Michael Milisits and Robert Klepinger. The winner will likely face Republican incumbent Mike Turner in November.
Turner faces primary challenges from Republicans John Anderson and John Mitchel.
The endorsement from Whaley “adds to the teamwork mentality” of the campaign, according to Gasper. They have known each other since Whaley was first elected to the City Commission in 2005.
Turner has defeated a string of Democratic challengers since he was first elected to Congress in 2002. Gasper said she hopes this year is different. “It is never easy going against an incumbent. However we have the anti-incumbent energy going through the country right now. People want fresh faces. They want fresh ideas,” Gasper said.
Congressman Turner’s office did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.
The 10th District is made up of Montgomery, Greene and Fayette counties. Discussion at Tuesday endorsement event glossed over the fellow Democrats in the race and focused on the goal of beating the incumbent.
Whaley thinks Gasper can be successful.
“She’s running a really aggressive race. She’s talking about issues that matter to folks. She is a different kind of candidate. Also we haven’t had a real competitive race because we have not had the kind of candidate of caliber that Theresa Gasper has been. Probably since Sharen Neuhardt, another woman, so I think that is going to make a big difference this year as well,” Whaley said. In Neuhardt’s 2012 race against Turner, Turner won 59.5 percent to 37.49 percent.
Still, Gasper said people in the district are telling her that they are ready for change.
“They feel ignored. They feel like if they are not part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or the military that they do not matter to this congressman. And Wright-Patt is obviously a huge economic driver in this community. But it cannot be either-or, it must be both-and. They need a thriving community around them to attract the talent they need,” Gasper said.
Gasper, Milisits and Klepinger will face off in the Democratic primary election May 8th.