In Ohio's GOP congressional primaries, Taylor wins 2nd Congressional District, Rulli wins 6th

FILE - Shane Wilkin, Ohio Senate Republican from the 17th District, listens to debate at the Ohio State House Senate Chambers in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Wilkin is one of 11 candidates vying for the Republican nomination for a seat in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District, which extends from suburban Cincinnati to the West Virginia border. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Samantha Meadows in the November general election. (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Businessman Dave Taylor has defeated 10 of his fellow Republicans in a crowded primary for southern Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District seat, and State Sen. Michael Rulli has won the Republican primary in Eastern Ohio’s 6th Congressional District.

Taylor will face Democrat Samantha Meadows in the November election to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who retired last year. Rulli will face Democrat Michael Kripchak, who won the Democratic primary for the seat.

The 2nd District extends from the eastern suburbs of Cincinnati to the West Virginia border. The 6th District is home to East Palestine, the village that is still suffering from the effects of last year’s toxic train derailment. Both are solidly red districts.

The 2nd Congressional District race was the most expensive of Ohio’s congressional races this election. Taylor raised roughly $1.7 million, the most of any candidate, though several others also reported over $1 million in campaign funds.

Taylor previously worked as a local prosecutor before taking over his family’s business, Sardinia Ready Mix, Inc., a concrete supplier. His platform includes classic conservative talking points, such as securing the United States’ southern border, opposing abortion, and supporting gun rights and former President Donald Trump.

In the 6th District, constituents voted not once, but twice in Tuesday’s primary: first for a nominee to run in a June special election whose winner will fill out the remainder of Johnson’s current term; and in the November general election, whose winner will start a full new term in January 2025. Rulli won both nominations.

Johnson resigned before his term ended to become president of Youngstown State University Jan. 21, prompting Gov. Mike DeWine to schedule the summer special election to fill the role until the start of the 2025 congressional term.

The heart of the district, which runs along the Ohio River in the eastern part of the state, is East Palestine, a small community that recently observed the one-year anniversary of a devastating train derailment.

The village, which sits just west of the Pennsylvania border, says it is still feeling the impact of an intentional toxic chemical release that authorities conducted to keep the derailed train cars from exploding.

Rulli defeated current state Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus of Stark County and Rick Tsai, a chiropractor from East Palestine, to secure the GOP nomination.

The Mahoning County native and current Columbiana County resident, has served as a state senator since 2019. He’s also director of operations for Rulli Bros. Market, a grocery company founded over 100 years ago by his grandfather and great-uncle.

Rulli said in a phone interview that he’s very happy and thankful for his win, and that he’s looking forward to advocating for the district — especially its blue collar workforce.

Rulli campaigned on mainstream conservative issues, such as securing the United States’ southern border, supporting gun rights, and opposing abortion. He has secured key endorsements from the National Rifle Association and Ohio Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization. He is also an advocate for increasing oil and gas production within Ohio instead of getting energy outside the United States.

Several East Palestine officials endorsed Rulli’s run, and Rulli emphasized in a phone interview that there’s still a lot of work to be done in East Palestine to ensure the village is safe and the community’s anxieties are addressed.

The National Republican Congressional Committee congratulated Rulli in an emailed statement Tuesday night.

“Michael has a strong, conservative record of delivering results in the state legislature. With Michael on the ballot, we look forward to maintaining this district as a Republican stronghold and welcoming him to Congress with a strong Republican majority,” committee spokesperson Mike Marinella said in the email.


Samantha Hendrickson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.