NORTHEAST OHIO — Along the shores of Lake Erie in far northeast Ohio, the race for Congress is partly focused on who’s more likely to work across the aisle.
Incumbent Republican Dave Joyce, the former longtime prosector in Geauga County, is hoping voters appreciate his efforts over the last seven years to call balls and strikes in Congress.
"For whatever reason, in Washington, D.C., we don't work hard. You know, we're allergic to having hearings that have any substance,” Joyce (R, 14th Congressional District) said in a recent interview in Chagrin Falls.
(You can watch my full interview with Rep. Joyce below or click here to read a full transcript of our conversation.)
His Democratic challenger is Navy combat veteran and first-time politician Hillary O’Connor Mueri.
“I believe that military people really have a better way of focusing on country first, country over party and mission first,” O’Connor Mueri said in a recent interview in Mentor.
(You can watch my full interview with Hillary O’Connor Mueri below or click here to read a full transcript of our conversation.)
Joyce considers himself a bipartisan member of Congress who stays out of the drama in Washington and instead focuses on finding solutions as a member of the House Problem Solvers Caucus.
But O’Connor Mueri told me she considers all of that to be a facade to cover up for what she says is too conservative a voting record.
O’Connor Mueri points to a tracker by the political news website FiveThirtyEight that says Joyce has voted in line with President Donald Trump 94% of the time.
“To me, that doesn't look very bipartisan,” she said. “So you know, I think that it's a little bit more branding than anything else.”
But Joyce argues his allegiance is to the district, not the White House.
He campaigns as the ‘Great Lakes guy’ who uses his position on the House Appropriations Committee and as co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force to protect Lake Erie and secure federal funding for it.
The Trump administration has put more money toward it after threatening to cut the budget multiple times.
“I'm not afraid to call people out,” Joyce said. “When the president said that they should zero out the bill for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, I stood up and said that's wrong, he’s absolutely wrong on that.”
O’Connor Mueri is campaigning on expanding the Affordable Care Act with a public option, supporting veterans, and creating better paying jobs.
“Not to steal [Sen.] Sherrod Brown's line, but I believe in the dignity of work, and I believe in a living wage for everybody,” O’Connor Mueri said.
In a district where many voters supported Trump after voting for Barack Obama, both Ohio natives are hoping their down-to-earth messaging resonates with people.
“I served my country, and I come with that sense of service and want to bring that back to this district,” O’Connor Mueri said. "And I think that people are really catching on to the fact that David Joyce isn't representing their interests. He's representing his own interests. He's representing the interests of the people who are funding his campaign.”
In his interview, Joyce said, “Our job is to make sure, in Congress, we work on trying to get the things through the House or, myself being on Appropriations, get our bills through and take care of our business to make sure that America can work.”
No recent public polls are available for this race.
On the fundraising end of things, Joyce raised $507,000 in the most recent quarter while O’Connor Mueri raised $155,000.