Sunday, May 2, 2004

GOP's Witte leaves House race


He cites his business expansion as reason

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST PRICE HILL - Republican Pete Witte says he's dropping out of the 31st District Ohio House race to concentrate on growing his Price Hill business.

Witte said Saturday that his sign-making company, Baron Engraving, had purchased Mr. Mugs in Delhi Township and would expand into the specialty advertising industry.

If elected, Witte, 35, said the drive to Columbus would take too much time. Instead, he wants to focus on his plan for a district election system for Cincinnati City Council.

"I'm so worried about the city of Cincinnati and Price Hill specifically, so my civic efforts are going to be focused on that. I love the folks in Addyston and Cheviot, but my heart and soul are in the city," he said.

Witte won the right to run against Democratic State Rep. Steven L. Driehaus by winning an uncontested primary in February.

Witte's withdrawal strengthens Driehaus's hold on the seat, which he has held for two terms. The seat was formerly occupied by Jerry Leubbers, a conservative Delhi Democrat.

A Witte-Driehaus match-up, featuring two prominent west side names, would have given the GOP a chance to add to their 62-37 seat majority in the House.

Witte ran for City Council last year, but came in 15th out of 26 candidates. However, he finished first in Covedale, a key ward in the 31st District. Republican party leaders said it's too early to consider replacement candidates, because Witte hasn't yet filed a withdrawal of candidacy with the Board of Elections.

One possible replacement would be Terry Deters, an East Price Hill funeral director who also ran for City Council last year.

Deters confirmed that there had been talks, but said Driehaus is a conservative pro-life Democrat who deserves to be re-elected.

"If it weren't Steve, I'd run," he said. "We like Steve."

E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com




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