Joe Wessels: Heimlich getting GOP nod would bridge political divide

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 15, 2024

In this crucial juncture for our nation, the March 19 primary election in Ohio’s Second Congressional District highlights a significant calling beyond typical party affiliation. 

We stand at a pivotal moment where the essence of our democracy and the fundamental values that shape us hang in the balance. The choice in the polling station goes beyond mere party allegiance; it speaks to our shared dedication to democratic ideals, moderation, and love for our country.

That is why I dropped out of the Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District and endorsed a Republican, Phil Heimlich. Why would this lifelong Democrat do that? Heimlich is a Republican, yes – yet he has a longstanding opinion that Donald Trump is wrong for our country. That’s something progressives and conservatives can agree on.

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Strategic voting — choosing candidates across party lines who embody democratic ideals and the courage to resist extremism — is more than a tactical maneuver.

It represents a more profound understanding that the health of our democracy relies on our ability to prioritize the well-being of our country above all else. 

This election, we are presented with the opportunity to support individuals who, regardless of party, are dedicated to bridging divides and fostering a political environment anchored in respect, dialogue, and mutual understanding.

And this year is unique, unlike any other in a century or more. Me dropping out of the Democratic primary will not hinder any Democrat from receiving the party’s nomination. With this district’s historically Republican-lean, anyone who wins the Republican primary is nearly guaranteed to win the Congressional seat. That’s why I endorsed Heimlich.

Supporting candidates who stand against the currents of division and polarization does not dilute our principles but reinforces our dedication to a more inclusive and united America. This is what all patriotic Americans want right now. It is a testament to our recognition that authentic leadership transcends party labels and is rooted in the commitment to safeguard the ideals upon which our nation was founded.

As we approach the ballot box, let us be guided by a vision of what our country can and should be — a nation defined by its commitment to democracy and unwavering dedication to the common good. 

This year, of all years, let us vote for our country over our party, ensuring a future that honors the legacy of those who have fought for our freedoms and the dreams of those who will inherit them.

Joe Wessels is a former Democratic candidate for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District.