Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
Richard Ehrbar III is anything but a typical undergraduate student at Ohio State. He is a 29-year-old student, and when he isn’t in class, he’s on the campaign trail, preparing for his U.S. Congress run.
The Libertarian candidate and third-year in strategic communication has never held a government position before, but has considered getting into politics for a while.
“I decided officially that I was going to run back in July. It was something I’d thought about and strongly considered for the past couple of years. I decided that the time was now,” Ehrbar said.
Ehrbar is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for Ohio’s newly formed 3rd District, which encompasses OSU’s Columbus campus, Columbus State Community College, Franklin University and Capital University, as well as Clintonville, the East Side, Worthington and part of the Short North.
Ehrbar submitted petitions to the Franklin County Board of Elections on Dec. 30, 2011, and was certified to run as the 2012 Libertarian Party candidate about a week later.
There is no incumbent seat holder in the district and the field has yet to be narrowed down to a single candidate in the Republican and Democratic parties. One of Ehrbar’s opponents is Joyce Beatty, senior vice president for outreach and engagement at OSU, who recently said she is stepping down from her position to pursue the 3rd District seat.
Mayor Michael Coleman, a Democrat, has already endorsed Beatty’s campaign. Coleman said Beatty is a “visionary leader at every stage of her career.”
Ehrbar, from Huron, Ohio, graduated high school in 2001 and worked in the food industry to save enough money to continue his education at Bowling Green State University in 2006.
“I grew up in a lower-middle class family. At the time there really wasn’t much money to go around to pay for college, so after I got done with high school, I went to work,” Ehrbar said.
He described his path to OSU as a “blue collar, no collar kind of journey.” Ehrbar transferred to OSU in March 2010.
“I always wanted to be a Buckeye,” he said.
Ehrbar’s childhood friend, Ryan Terry, said Ehrbar hadn’t shown an interest in politics when he was younger but “had always been interested in what’s going on in the world.”
While Ehrbar took this quarter off to focus on his campaign, he plans to continue classes during the coming Spring Quarter and Fall Semester.
“I want to be visible on campus during the home stretch,” Ehrbar said.
If Ehrbar wins the election, he plans to take more time off school.
“I would want to focus, of course, on my responsibilities, maybe an online class. I’d be so focused on going back and forth between Washington and Columbus, rallying, organizing, facilitating, I don’t think I would have much time to be in the classroom,” he said.
Should he be elected, after his term or subsequent terms end, Ehrbar said he plans to return to OSU to finish his bachelor’s degree and pursue a master’s degree.
Robert Bridges, the political director for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, doesn’t work directly with Ehrbar and his campaign, but said he is excited to work with him in the coming months.
“He has such new ideas and is an out-of-the-box thinker,” Bridges said. “I can say for a fact that Richard has central Ohio on his mind.”
David Parker, president of Young Americans for Liberty at OSU, said Ehrbar will be a “refreshing alternative” for voters.
“Ehrbar is a true libertarian who strongly believes in our rights as individuals in society,” Parker said. “(He) will challenge the status quo and bring economic and civil liberties together as they were intended by our founding fathers.”
Ehrbar told The Lantern he wants to “bring our troops home,” and focus on restoring individual liberties and the economy if he wins the election.
If he doesn’t win, Ehrbar said he has thought about pursuing something a little different.
“After school I would really love to have my own Italian restaurant,” he said.
But he plans to finish his time at OSU first.
“I’m going to finish up my degrees,” Ehrbar said. “And keep being a poor, broke college student.”
College Democrats and College Republicans could not be immediately reached for comment late Sunday night.