MARIETTA - Jennifer Garrison, who served three terms in the Ohio House of Representatives, is looking to represent a larger portion of the state in the U.S. House.
Garrison, a Marietta attorney and Democrat, filed to run for the 6th Congressional District seat in 2014. The seat is held by a fellow Marietta resident, two-term U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican.
"It's time to solve problems, and for the hard-working folks of Ohio's 6th Congressional District to have a fighter for our middle class families," Garrison said in a statement announcing the filing. "Both political parties have not focused enough on jobs, job security and the kitchen table issues that our neighbors and families face everyday.
"Whether it's been improving education funding for rural Ohio, keeping utility rates low for consumers and manufacturers or demanding transparency from the Legislature, I have a track record of getting results and look forward to this campaign," she said.
Garrison plans to officially kick off her campaign today with a pair of events - one at 11 a.m. at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, the other at 4 p.m. in Canfield.
The 2014 general election is a little less than 16 months away, but as Garrison threw her hat in the ring, she was already in the GOP crosshairs.
"Jennifer Garrison has announced her candidacy for Congress with the promise of being (Rep.) Nancy Pelosi's lap dog in Washington," National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Katie Prill said in an email. "Unfortunately for Garrison, the last thing Ohio families want or need is a representative who will fight tooth and nail to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House."
In May, Garrison met in Washington, D.C., with representatives of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee about a possible run. Later, she said one of the things she wanted to make clear to the group, which offers financial and strategic support for candidates, is that she would represent people before party.
Garrison's campaign manager, Charlie Hale, called the lapdog comment "ridiculous."
"Everybody knows that Jennifer's about getting results for this region," he said.
Johnson has not made an official announcement about running for re-election, but it's "likely" he will do so, said Matt Dole, an adviser to Johnson's campaign. For the quarter just completed, they raised more than $269,000, according to a release.
"We expect Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi to make the 6th District a hotly contested race in an effort to secure (a) sure vote for their liberal policies from a hand-picked candidate," Dole said in the release. "This campaign finance report indicates that voters are already making their voices heard through their checkbook - they support Bill Johnson's pragmatic conservatism."
Dole would not comment specifically on Garrison's filing, noting there may be other candidates to challenge her in the Democratic primary.
"We think it's a time for solutions, not politics," he said.
One potential opponent for Garrison in the party primary is state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville. Elected to the 30th Ohio Senate District seat in November, he said he's received some encouragement to run and is still weighing his options.
"I want to do what I think is in the best interest of my constituents," he said. "I have not made a decision yet. I expect that I will make one soon."