Republican Brad Wenstrup, a podiatrist and U.S. Army veteran who unsuccessfully ran for Cincinnati mayor in 2009, announced today that he will challenge incumbent Jean Schmidt next year in the GOP primary to run for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District seat.
Wenstrup ran against incumbent Mayor Mark Mallory, a Democrat, two years ago. Wenstrup lost 54-46 percent, but many local Republican leaders were impressed by the showing of the first-time political candidate.
Wenstrup, who turns 53 on Friday, lives in Columbia Tusculum and grew up in Hyde Park. He is a major in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he was deployed for a year on active duty as a combat surgeon in Iraq. He is also a partner at Wellington Orthopaedic, which operates from several sites throughout Hamilton County.
In a video announcement on his website, Wenstrup referred to President Obama's health-care reform law as the type of legislation he would oppose, if elected.
"Washington politicians think that government can make better decisions than you and me," Wenstrup said in the video segment. "But we know better. We know it's smaller, less intrusive government that will lead to real economic prosperity. We know it's business-friendly policies, not more red tape, that will create real growth.
"Washington politicians have been coming back to Ohio for years saying everything is fine," Wenstrup added. "But it's not fine. Politicians -- in both political parties -- spend too much money. And they forget to focus on what matters most, fixing the economic mess they created and putting people back to work. As a business owner, doctor and veteran, I have the experience to confront the critical issues facing our country and focus on conservative solutions that will improve the lives of the people of the 2nd District of Ohio."
While in Iraq, Wenstrup was stationed at Abu Ghraib for 11 months in 2005-06, as part of the 344th Battalion Combat Support Hospital. He was assistant deputy commander and responsible for ensuring that prisoners’ health care needs were met.
“We knew what our mission was and what we were up against,” Wenstrup said in a 2009 CityBeat interview. “We’re in a prison hospital, we’re taking care of the enemy. Our main mission is detainee health care. Everyone knew about the scandal and the people who did it. What I have to remind people is compared to other countries it was a soldier who turned them in and we took care of it. I guess that’s looking at it in a ‘glass half-full’ way.”
Wenstrup condemned the earlier abuse, adding that most soldiers wouldn’t tolerate that type of behavior if they knew about it.
“What they did was silly, stupid, wrong, unprofessional,” he said in the interview. “I train with (military police) most of the time, and that’s just not the type of thing that you’re taught.”
Since taking office in 2005, Schmidt has been known for a series of embarrassing statements and gaffes. She currently is under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics for her receipt of legal assistance from a Turkish-American interest group in a defamation lawsuit she filed against a former opponent, David Krikorian.
The 2nd District spans seven counties in southwestern Ohio, most of them along the Ohio River. It includes eastern parts of Cincinnati such as Madisonville as well as Sharonville, Blue Ash, Deer Park, Lebanon, Loveland, Madeira, Montgomery, Newtown, Terrace Park and Indian Hill and all or parts of Anderson, Sycamore and Symmes townships.