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Kevin Coughlin wins Ohio’s 13th District Republican primary; will face Sykes this fall

Kevin Coughlin
Courtesy of Kevin Coughlin
Kevin Coughlin captured about two-thirds of the vote, according to unofficial election results.

Kevin Coughlin has won the three-way Republican race to oppose Democratic Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, according to unofficial election results.

Coughlin prevailed with more than 65% of the vote. Hudson Councilmember Chris Banweg trailed with just more than 28% of the vote and Richard Morckel, a former airship technician, came in third with 7%.

Strong Sykes ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Liam Walker has also filed to run in the general election in the George Wallace Party.

All three Republican candidates prioritized border security and lowering inflation in their campaigns.

Coughlin, a former state legislator and Stow Municipal Court clerk, is “a dependable conservative,” he said. A self-described Reagan Republican, Coughlin said he hopes to focus on cutting down federal spending and securing the border if elected to Congress.

“I believe in the market economy. I believe in less government regulation. I believe in lower taxes. I believe in accountable government,” he said. “I believe not in decriminalizing things, but recriminalizing things because I think we've gotten way too soft on crime.”

Col. Chris Banweg is a current Hudson City Councilmember and a member of the Marine Corps for nearly 25 years. He campaigned on border security and curbing violent crime.

“What sets me apart is I believe people are looking for leaders, not just another bureaucrat or career politician,” he said. “I think I bring a different perspective that is going to deliver solutions that maybe haven't been in traditional career politicians’ playbook.”

Akron resident Richard Morckel, who has never held an elected office, also focused on cutting spending and closing the border.

“Everybody says that, but nonetheless, it has to be done,” Morckel said. “We have to finish that wall, and we need to staff that wall.”

Strong Sykes is serving her first term in Congress. Born and raised in Akron, she previously served four two-year terms in the Ohio House, working her way up to House Minority Leader.

As Congresswoman, she serves on the Committees of Transportation and Infrastructure as well as Science, Space and Technology.

Stylized illustration of map of Ohio 13th Congressional District
Lauren Green
Ideastream Public Media
Three Republicans are competing in the 2024 Ohio primary to challenge first-term incumbent Democrat Emilia Strong Sykes in the 13th Congressional District

The 13th District covers all of Summit County, the northern portion of Stark County and parts of Portage County.

The district is considered a “toss-up” and one of the most competitive Congressional races in the country by the Cook Political Report – leaning slightly Democrat.

Corrected: March 20, 2024 at 3:10 PM EDT
This story previously incorrectly stated that Rep. Emilia Sykes served two terms in the Ohio House. The story has been updated to state that she served four two-year terms.
Updated: March 20, 2024 at 11:17 AM EDT
This story has been updated with additional info on the unofficial results.
Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.