Discouraged by the rhetoric and policies of established politicians running for the Ohio State Senate, Howard recently announced his candidacy for the seat representing the 10th district, which includes Clark, Greene and Madison counties. Howard will compete in the March 4, 2008, Republican primary election that currently includes state Rep. Chris Widener and former Greene County Commissioner W. Reed Madden.
"I'm running because I didn't like any of the candidates, and I really think I can make a difference," Howard said.
He is just 18 years old, and the political science major hasn't even received his first set of collegiate grades, but he said that he has conducted plenty of research. He is confident that his platform, highlighted by a pledge to eliminate regressive tax structures and an emphasis on education funding issues that have confounded Ohio legislators for years, will resonate with voters.
He is running for the seat currently held by Republican Steve Austria, who has served two four-year terms and cannot run again due to term limits. Austria has announced that he is running for the United States House of Representatives in hopes of succeeding longtime Republican Congressman David Hobson, who recently announced his retirement.
An avid reader and a member of Wittenberg's men's tennis team, Howard said his lack of professional experience could work in his favor because many voters are disenchanted with the status quo in Ohio state government. Howard feels that he represents an opportunity for change.
"I'm from here so I'm going to look out for this district," Howard said. "What bugs me is that people get elected and they move away from the area."
If he wins the Republican primary, he would face a Democratic challenger in the Nov. 4, 2008, general election, which is likely to have a significant turnout due to the presidential election.
Running for office is no small task, but Howard said that his professors at Wittenberg have been supportive. Many have experience with a student campaign after Ben McCullough, class of 2009 from Montpelier, Ohio, ran for the Ohio House of Representatives in 2006. Running in a strongly Republican district at the age of 19, McCullough won the Democratic primary and 45 percent of the vote in the general election that year.
"I love Wittenberg," Howard said. "The professors have already helped me out a lot as I've had to miss classes for campaign-related activities."
He is likely to miss more class time in the next few months, but he said that numerous friends and family members are getting involved. Along with campaign manager David Donofrio, class of 2009 from Dublin, Ohio, Howard is organizing teams of volunteers to knock on doors. He is also making appearances before various Republican organizations.
Written By: Ryan Maurer
Photo By: Robert Gantt
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