The president of a Christian activist organization will challenge incumbent state Sen. Larry Obhof of Montville Township for the 22nd district in the March Republican primary.
Obhof will face Janet Porter, of Hinckley Township, on March 15.
Christopher King, of Sullivan, is running unopposed in the democratic primary for the seat.
Porter is president and founder of Faith 2 Action, a Christian organization that says it opposes same-sex marriage. Before starting the organization in 2003, she was the national director for the Center for Reclaiming America for five years and a legislative director at Ohio Right to Life for nine years.
She told The Gazette on Wednesday that she recently finished filming a documentary, “Light Wins: How to Overcome the Criminalization of Christianity,” and she interviewed Kim Davis, a Kentucky court clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer.
“I stand for life. I stand for liberty,” she said. “The family is the nucleus of the state. It’s the basis for business.”
In addition to a pro-life position on abortion and opposition to gay marriage, Porter said she supports tax incentives to small businesses and less government interference.
She said she is also an author of Ohio’s “heartbeat” bill, which prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The bill has been in the Ohio Senate for consideration since last spring. She said she asked Obhof to sign a petition to bring the bill to a vote, but he declined. This encounter was one of the reasons she decided to become a candidate, she said.
“We’re running against the Republican obstructionist establishment,” she said. “There’s more they can do to represent life, liberty and the family.”
Obhof did not comment directly on Porter’s remarks, but said his voting record is 100 percent “pro-life.”
“My pro-life record speaks for itself. … I have a very strong pro-life voting record,” he said.
Obhof was appointed to office in 2011 and elected to his current four-year term in 2012. The Montville resident said during his years in office, he has worked to improve the economy.
“I have fought to turn Ohio around by cutting taxes and getting rid of the red tape and regulation that was costing us jobs,” Obhof said.
In 2013, Obhof was named the Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Independent Business Ohio. In 2014, he was named Legislator of the Year by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio. In the Senate, he has served as vice chairman of the criminal justice committee and helped extend the statute of limitations for pursuing rape charges.
He also worked on House Bill 262 to increase the penalties for human trafficking and Senate Bill 64, which strengthened child enticement laws.
Obhof said he believes a drug problem involving heroin is an issue facing constituents in his district and he noted that he co-sponsored several measures to allow first-responders to carry Narcan, a heroin antidote.
“The issues I work on pretty much run the gamut,” he said.
The 22nd district includes Medina, Ashland, and Richland counties, and portions of Holmes County.