Garrison first to declare run for Ohio’s 6th District

Former Ohio House Representative Jennifer Garrison announced her candidacy Tuesday for Ohio’s 6th U.S. Congressional District 2014 race, making her the first official candidate for the seat currently held by Republican Bill Johnson.

Dozens of local Democrats and supporters gathered at Marietta’s Lafayette Hotel Tuesday morning for the press conference where Garrison, a Marietta attorney and Democrat, officially announced her intent to run for the office.

“I have a background of getting results,” said Garrison, who served as a state representative from 2004 to 2010.

Among her accomplishments, Garrison listed a piece of legislation she supported as a state representative that improved transparency by having the voting records of Ohio representatives published on the Ohio House’s website.

She also talked about the Southeastern Ohio Landowners’ Association, which she founded after opting out of another run for state representative in 2010.

Through the association, she has helped negotiate more than $250 million in mineral rights revenues for local landowners, she said.

“The leasing of our Utica and Marcella shale is a game changer for southeastern Ohioans,” said Garrison.

Ensuring that the oil and gas boom is able to thrive in an environmentally sensible way is one of Garrison’s priorities, she said.

“It will absolutely change the opportunity for children and grandchildren to return to the area with good job opportunities,” she added.

Living is Marietta is advantageous for the 6th District representative because the city marks a nice halfway point between the farthest ends of the district. It covers all or parts of 18 counties, said Garrison, who has lived in the city 23 years.

While in the state legislature, she represented all or part of five of those counties.

Now Garrison joked she is planning on “putting about 100,000 miles on her car” as she gets to know constituents in the far reaches of the Ohio 6th district.

“I have a lot of energy and I love to meet people. We’ll be going county by county hoping to meet employers and people,” she said.

Though no other candidates have announced a bid for the seat, incumbent Bill Johnson, of Marietta, will “likely” run for re-election, said Johnson campaign advisor Matt Dole on Monday.

Veering away from Johnson’s experience and commitment to the district would be a bad idea, said Washington County GOP Chairwoman Leslie Haas.

“I think Bill Johnson has done an admirable job representing constituents in the 6th district…and I think it would be a mistake to let a good conscientious representative get away,” she said.

Furthermore, Ohio’s 6th district could be an important key to the balance of power in Congress, added Haas.

“To turn the seat over to a Democrat and thereby help possibly turn over control of the House of Representative to Democrats would further enable Barack Obama with his agenda,” she said.

Johnson might not be the only opposition Garrison faces. Current Ohio Senator Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, has said he is considering running for the seat as well.

“I’ve been receiving encouragement by people throughout the district,” Gentile said Tuesday. “I feel that I need to…make a thoughtful decision about what’s in the best interest for the people of my district and give them the representation they deserve. Whether that be in the state senate or the United States Congress, I have not decided that yet.”

Getting into the campaign early will be a benefit for Garrison, said Washington County Democratic Party chairwoman Molly Varner.

“She’s been a very active Democrat since being elected to the House. She would often call me to discuss issues…She’s in touch with her constituency,” said Varner.