Rep. Emilia Sykes Faces Pressure After 3 Republican Candidates Join Race to Oust Her from Congress

by Xara Aziz
Office of Rep. Emilia Sykes

As the election season heats up, Rep. Emilia Sykes faces a potential ouster after three Republicans have stepped up to challenge the Democrat in an attempt to win their party’s primary on March 19.

Of the three, former state legislator Kevin Coughlin, council member Chris Banweg and a hardware store employee named Richard Morckel have announced they will run.

Should any of the three Republicans win, they will represent Ohio’s Summit County, northern Stark County and a portion of Portage County.

According to a Cook Political Report, the district is considered a “toss up” with Democrats having a slight advantage, according to an app called Dave’s Redistricting.

In 2022, the incumbent won 52.7 of the vote, a small margin against Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, who now serves as the GOP’s chief spokesperson. Meanwhile, each GOP nominee in this year’s ticket says they are well-positioned to defeat Rep. Sykes.

Coughlin served in Ohio’s legislature from 1996 to 2011, later securing the election as Stow Municipal Court clerk. By the close of last year, he had amassed the most substantial campaign funds among the challengers, largely through a personal loan. Currently, he operates a thriving small business, offering strategic counsel and expertise in management, communications, and public policy to both businesses and nonprofits.

“I feel like I’m more in line with the views and the concerns of the 13th congressional district than the person that there’s that is there now, and I have a record that shows that I will be able to do something about it,” Coughlin told

Banweg, a distinguished healthcare business executive and Marine Corps Reserve lieutenant colonel, trailed Coughlin slightly in funds by the end of last year, including a modest personal loan. He identifies himself as a non-career politician, poised to bring invaluable business acumen and military insights to the position.

“My goal is to represent the perspective of the working American family,” Banweg told “I think for too long we’ve been sending the same type of people to DC and expecting something different. I believe we need a new perspective.”

Morckel remains a steadfast underdog in congressional races. In 2016, he secured 32.3% of the vote against former Niles-area Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, with no other Republicans contesting the position. Despite facing a crowded GOP primary in 2020, where he lost to former state legislator Christina Hagan, who subsequently fell to Ryan in the general election, Morckel has announced his candidacy once again.

He champions his bid to defend “our representative republic,” vowing to curtail federal spending, oppose the “unconstitutional digitization of the U.S. dollar,” fortify U.S. borders, and see through the completion of the border wall initiated by Trump. Morckel maintains that his candidacy stands apart as he is “not part of the circle power,” he told

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