For Frank LaRose, the past four years have been an education — in the best sense of the word. He has learned, grown and increasingly shown leadership as a freshman lawmaker in the Ohio Senate. Now the Copley Township Republican is seeking a second four-year term representing the 27th District, which covers all of Wayne County, a western part of Stark County and western and northern Summit County.
His re-election effort begins with a primary challenge, an opponent on his far right arguing that he is “out of touch” with the district. Actually, LaRose has been a refreshing presence in the legislature, willing to reach across the aisle, looking to solve problems to the benefit of his district and the state as a whole.
We recommend the election of Frank LaRose on May 6.
LaRose entered political life after a decade serving in the U.S. Army, with the 101st Airborne, eventually as a Green Beret. Among the first tests in the legislature was the fight over Senate Bill 5, the bid by Gov. John Kasich and Republican lawmakers to gut collective bargaining for public employees. LaRose looked for common ground. It proved hard to find. What he gained from the episode was a deeper understanding of the legislative dynamics and a stronger commitment to following his own middle path.
That was evident in his pursuit of sensible regulation of oil and gas drilling. He supports a reasonable severance tax, among other things, as a way to invest in affected communities. He has been exploring approaches to energy efficiency that adjust the standards without eroding the overall value. He has been a leader in pushing for online voter registration. He supports legislation that would bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
In all of this, LaRose has remained true to his conservative principles. He opposed the nomination of the head of Ohio Right to Life to the State Medical Board because the nominee lacked the appropriate qualifications and appeared too partisan, views shared by many physicians. LaRose is thoughtful, practical and willing to take a tough stand, traits in too short supply at the Statehouse.
His opponent, Caleb Davenport, has his own impressive resume, from working as a crewman on an oil derrick to service as an airman first class in the Air Force. He now leads the retirement planning firm he founded in Wooster.
Davenport sees morality as the leading issue, arguing that his Christian faith faces attack, for instance, in the anti-discrimination bill supported by LaRose. Davenport views the Common Core curriculum as a federal power grab. He pledges that he would not vote to raise taxes. His positions are clearly defined. They also highlight an inflexibility ill-suited to an effective lawmaker.