MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) — John Boehner's primary races are often about as challenging as a tap-in putt. However, the U.S. House speaker and avid golfer faces stepped-up competition back home this time.
With three GOP opponents on the ballot and some outside money aimed against him, Boehner's campaign has run two rounds of television ads amid other voter outreach efforts. Boehner last week worked his 8th House District that stretches across six counties, making five announced stops over three days through western Ohio.
"We take every race very seriously," campaign spokesman Cory Fritz said. And, he said, without major statewide GOP primaries for governor, U.S. senator or attention-grabbing issues on the May 6 ballot, the campaign saw a need to "start mobilizing and energizing the base."
Bryan Marshall, a political scientist at Miami University, said factors such as a national tea party group pumping money into the district race and opponents painting Boehner as the face of a dysfunctional Washington make this primary more intriguing than others Boehner has faced.
Boehner, who first won the seat in 1990, racked up 84 percent of the 2012 vote against one candidate and 85 percent against two 2010 challengers after three straight uncontested primaries in the Republican-dominated district.
Marshall said while there appears to be little doubt about Boehner winning re-nomination, his opponents could attract votes from Republicans who are unhappy about the federal deficit, immigration or other issues.
"If these challengers can knock 25 to 30 percent off (Boehner's recent percentages), I think they send a real message to Boehner and the leadership that there is a lot of discontent out there in the base," he said.
There are some "Fire Boehner" yard signs and other scattered indications of opposition in the district, but there are no widespread media campaigns rivaling Boehner's. His campaign headed into the last month with some $3.3 million available against opponents on shoestring budgets.