Clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right. Well, that’s where I think I am in this political environment. - William Smith Candidate for Congress
by David Miller
This LOVELAND MAGAZINE HD VIDEO is the first video interview William Smith has granted since he won the Democratic Primary in March. He will face Brad Wenstrup for a seat in the U.S. Congress representing Ohio’s 2nd District - the seat that will be vacated by Jean Schmidt after losing to Wenstrup in her primary election.
Smith, from Waverly, won the primary, beating Indian Hill resident, David Krikorian by 61 votes out of more than 20,000 cast.
Loveland Magazine traveled the 90-miles to the far reaches of the district and interviewed Smith on the front porch of his modest home in the rural, rolling hill setting a few miles from Pike State Forest. A call had to be made from Brewesters gas station and convince store just off of St. Rt. 32 to get final directions where the last cell service was available - to his home land line. After scratching down those directions that involved many complicated turns for the “short cut” Smith described, the final question was, “What does your house look like.”
“You will see me sitting on the front porch, Smith said. Then with a little more probing he said, but had to count three times in his mind down the winding one mile to his home, “It’s the fifth, no seventh, no hold on, it’s the one, two, three, four, five - it’s the fifth house on the right. You will see a red barn, a deer damaged Neon and a red, riding mower in the front yard, and I will be sitting on the front porch.”
Smith is the “Unknown” candidate that barely a seasoned politician had heard of, and most still don’t know. Democratic party leaders here in Hamilton and Clermont County admitted the morning after Smith’s surprise election win that they did not know him, and in fact never spoken to him. No photos were available for publication. Smith had no campaign site where reporters could go to to gather information. Smith is still hard to reach because he is gone from home except part of the weekend, and it helps if you have his home number and not just his cell number. He does not have an e-mail address.
Until this in-depth interview, Smith remained the unknown candidate, and the ignored candidate, despite grabbing the chance to perhaps become, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” The difference - this real-life Mr. Smith is no naive Jimmy Stewart character. Yet, nearly four and a half months have gone by and no one had contacted Smith to find out his political beliefs.
When asked if he had ever been to Washington, Smith said, “Yes. My senior high school trip. And, used to deliver goods in the Washington Beltway area driving by the National Security Administration between Baltimore and D.C.”
Smith is an overnight truck driver. He said he almost completed a teaching degree at Ohio University, but because of ever changing credit requirements during the 1970s never received a diploma. He has also been a correction officer at the Lucasville State Prison, a postal worker, a job training counselor, and when very young, worked in the family saw mill.
“The elite look at people like me and say you’re unworthy, you deserve to be where your at - at the bottom. What they don’t understand is that me, and people I consider like me, are the foundation that all the other accomplishments of this nation are built on - and if you undercut the foundation, what’s going to happen to the structure above it?”
Smith talked about the insecurity that people are feeling in their daily lives. Worries about health care and doctor bills. Where is the next pay check coming from? Will the Social Security system you paid into, be solvent?
Smith talks slowly and deliberately. Loveland Magazine recorded about 90-minutes of conversation with Smith, who doesn’t talk in sound bites, and apologized for that. “Simple, thirty-second - I call it bi-polar politics, sorry I just can’t give you that.”
This first installment of the conversation is about 21-minutes long; Smith talking about his surprise win, why he decided to enter the race, why he is staying in the race despite pressure to get out, and what he feels he has to offer voters in the 2nd Congressional District.
In the following days, Loveland Magazine will publish Smith’s beliefs on abortion, birth control, social services, and his answers to who he believes made “robo-calls” in the last days of the March primary on his behalf. The “robo-calls” are credited with Smith’s surprise win. Who made the calls, and did they violate federal election laws, is still being investigated by election officials. Smith speculates, but denies any involvement or direct knowledge of who made the calls.
The two hour visit with Smith on his front porch during a rare Summer rain that barely dented the drought in Southwest Ohio ended in his kitchen, where he offered a slice of freshly baked pie. “You have to eat it with a glass of milk though. It tastes better that way”
Soon after he cut into, and served a slice of coconut cream pie with meringue topping, he expressed consternation that he may have sliced into the pie that his mother had baked for church the next day. The sin already committed, Smith grabbed another pie and served another piece - rhubarb this time. "Grown out there in the side yard.” Smith pointed through the window over the kitchen sink. “See the rhubarb garden. It’s inside those concrete blocks by the fence.” He then told a story about where the concrete blocks came from.
Smith has been told he needs $500,000 to win the race against Wenstrup. He said that he spent $150 to win the primary, and says he has no more money to spend. His campaign manager recently quit because of uncorroperative Democratic party leaders. He does have a Treasurer for his campaign, but no bank account because he has no money to put into it.
Two slices and a glass of milk he had though and a desire to explain how he would be able to serve everyone in his district if sent to Washington.
Watch the rest of the interview...