The Hamilton County GOP announced that Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Dan Hils will challenge Democrat Hamilton County Commission member Denise Driehaus in next year's election.
Hils has served as the police union's president since 2015 and has been a police officer for more than three decades. He has a reputation for tough talk, a conservative outlook and staunch support for Republican President Donald Trump. This is his first run for public office.
"It’s time to take it to Denise Driehaus for her mismanagement of county government," Hamilton County GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou tweeted today. "Dan is a fighter!"
Hils has promised to make law enforcement a focus of his campaign.
"One of the most difficult stresses to being a police officer in Hamilton County is to witness the absolute failing of the criminal justice system," Hils wrote in a Facebook post announcing his candidacy. "Police Officers in the City of Cincinnati and throughout Hamilton County are working each day to keep Hamilton County a safe place to live, work and enjoy. Unfortunately police officers are witness to the 'revolving door' of our county justice system. Offenders go under punished or not punished at all. Addicted offenders walk away from mandated treatment because they cannot be held for lack of adequate space in our system. Worse of all, innocent people are victimized by individuals who should still be serving sentences on previous (offenses). Our Justice Center is inadequate, overcrowded and in disrepair."
Hils has often drawn controversy with his pugnacious style from Democrats, the city's black police group and others — most recently for criticizing police reform activist Iris Roley by calling her a "con artist" and warning that a Cincinnati City Council ordinance designed to aid immigrant families would lead to "socialist rule."
Driehaus and the other two Democrats on the three-member board of commissioners, meanwhile, have drawn conservative ire for a recent move instituting a .25-cent sales tax to replace an expiring tax voters approved in 2014 to renovate Union Terminal. Republicans say that tax should be approved by county voters. Republican commission candidate Andy Black, who is running for a seat vacated by retiring commission member Todd Portune, led a ballot initiative to repeal the tax, though that effort didn't gather enough signatures to get the repeal before voters.
Driehaus, first elected in a 2016 upset victory over incumbent Dennis Deters, previously served in the Ohio State House. She's from a well-known political family — her brother Steve Driehaus served a term representing Cincinnati's 1st Congressional District.
Driehaus' campaign responded quickly to the GOP's announcement.
"Simply put, Dan Hils is a Trump supporting member of the Tea Party," the Driehaus campaign said in a fundraising email. "Republicans will do everything they can to try and reverse the progress Denise has made. There's no doubt they'll also try and drag this county down with Trump-style politics."