MIAMI COUNTY — John Boehner, who has served constituents of the 8th Congressional District of Ohio for a quarter-century, announced on Friday his decision to leave Congress at the end of October.
Boehner first took office in 2011 as Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position he also will relinquish.
Boehner, 65, was elected to Congress in 1990. The 8th District includes all of Miami, Butler, Clark, Darke, and Preble counties, and the southernmost part of Mercer County. Prior to redistricting, Shelby County also was part of Boehner’s congressional district.
State and local reactions to Boehner’s resignation have been supportive, though some were not surprised.
Governor John R. Kasich, reacting to the announcement, said, “Ohio and America are stronger today because of John Boehner. I’m proud that he’s my friend and that I served with him during a time of tremendous transformation and growth for our nation. He led ably then and as Speaker later because he listened to different views, respected the institution, and most important, respected the American people.
“He grew up humbly, overcame big obstacles to pull himself up by his bootstraps and never forgot where he came from. He leaves a legacy of unparalleled integrity and steady, mature leadership during difficult times that will be a model for future Speakers and anyone interested in public service,” Kasich said.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) also supports Boehner personally and politically.
“John Boehner is a dear friend, a fellow Cincinnatian, and a proud Ohioan. He was a small business owner who first ran for office because he was frustrated with government, and that motivates him to this day. He has been a servant leader who never forgot where he came from, and, as Speaker, had the hardest job in American politics. He handled it with grace and dignity and will be missed. Jane and I wish him and Debbie all the best in the next chapter of their lives.”
In Miami County, both Republican and Democratic leaders addressed Boehner’s resignation.
Miami County Republican Party Chairman John “Bud” O’Brien said that he respects the Speaker’s decision, saying that Boehner has been an excellent representative for Miami County.
“Speaker Boehner has had a long chapter of success as our congressman,” O’Brien said. “Politicians don’t hold office forever and we’ll move on the next chapter of representation in Congress.”
Dave Fisher, chairman of the county’s Democratic Party, said that he was not surprised by the announcement, given the opposition Boehner has faced within the party.
“Doesn’t surprise me at all, but the timing does seem odd. Maybe he wanted to go out on a high note,” Fisher said, referencing Pope Francis’ acceptance of the Speaker’s invitation to speak to a joint session of Congress.
Fisher also noted that, though Boehner courted a more conservative voter base, he has struggled to meet the expectations of Tea Party conservatives. Recently, Boehner has been under pressure from members of his own party who have threatened a government shutdown to defund Planned Parenthood.
“He courted those folks and you reap what you sow,” Fisher said.
Troy resident and Tea Party candidate J.D. Winteregg challenged Boehner at the polls in 2014. Boehner defeated Winteregg 74 percent to 23 percent in his first attempt to seek the seat.
Winteregg’s website states that he is planning to run a second time for the office in 2016.
Winteregg’s Facebook post wished Boehner “all the best” and then challenged Ohio’s 8th District to return the seat back to its “rightful owners.”
“We wish the Speaker all the best in his retirement. Now, please join us in our effort to return ‘The Boehner Seat’ to its rightful owners —‘we the people’ of Ohio’s 8th District.”
Working at the Rudy Elevator Inc., Winteregg wished Boehner the best of luck in retirement on Friday and looked forward to the 2016 campaign.
“I wish him the best luck, I thank him for his service and hope he enjoys retirement,” Winteregg said. “It’s done now so we get to focus now on moving forward. I’m excited about this opportunity and ready to let (Ohio’s 8th district) know there’s a new generation that is ready to step up to lead.”
Winteregg said he learned a lot during his first campaign against Boehner in 2014 and looks forward to sharing his life experience and “what I bring to the table” with constituents in the future.
“Since the announcement, I’m getting calls from all over the country from people who support me and I’m very grateful,” Winteregg said.
With Boehner’s resignation, Winteregg said it will now give him time to reevaluate his platform and give him more freedom to talk about his political believes.
“I feel like I have a really good grasp on what we should be fighting for and what the people want,” Winteregg said.
On the city level, Piqua’s 4th Ward City Commissioner Judy Terry said she wasn’t completely shocked by Boehner’s decision.
“I am surprised, but I’m not,” Terry said. “He’s gotten so much opposition from the (real center of) the Republican Party. I think he’s probably gotten tired of it.”
Terry mentioned that what is interesting is that Boehner is from this district.
“This is something we all have a hand in. He’s our elected representative,” Terry said. “It will be interesting to see who is proposed to take his place.” Terry added, “I certainly wish him the best because I like John Boehner.”
— Staff members Cecilia Fox, Sam Wildow, Melanie Yingst, Belinda M. Paschal and Melody Vallieu contributed to this story