Note: This story originally appeared on The Ohio Press Network website.
By Jeff Louderback
In the de facto capital of Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, Jonah Schulz addressed a conservative audience at the Ohio Political Summit in Strongsville earlier this year.
At the time, the 26-year-old northeast Ohio native and lifelong resident was running against current Rep. Anthony Gonzalez and former White House aide Max Miller in the hotly contested U.S. House race in that 16h district. After delivering his remarks, he opened the floor to questions, and the first inquiry was from Charles Giunta, a director with Ohio Value Voters. The organization joined Donald Trump in endorsing Miller, even though the 32-year-old Marine reservist has an arrest record and allegedly assaulted former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham when the couple was dating, according to a Politico Magazine profile that was published in July.
“Our group has already endorsed Max Miller, but we are looking at a divided race where Anthony Gonzalez can slip in and lose to a democrat. We don’t want a divided race. Are you open to stepping out so we can clearly win?” Giunta asked.
Schulz grinned as many in the crowd jeered Giunta’s question. He calmly provided a response.
“No, I am not, and I will tell you why,” Schulz explained. “If we swap out Anthony Gonzalez for Max Miller, we will swap out one wealthy elitist for another. It’s time we the people have true conservatives who understand what it’s like to live and work in our communities.”
The landscape abruptly changed on Thursday when Gonzalez announced he would not seek re-election.
Giunta’s question was no surprise to Schulz, who has been told since announcing his candidacy that he doesn’t have the money or the name recognition to unseat Gonzalez, the former Ohio State and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver who voted to impeach President Trump in January. The Ohio 16th Congressional District race is drawing national media attention – all focused on Gonzalez and Miller. Rarely is Schulz mentioned in newspaper articles and broadcast reports, but Schulz believes a tireless grassroots campaign where days are invested in door knocking, meet and greets, freedom rallies, and town halls will reach enough citizens to send him to Washington D.C.
Even with Gonzalez dropping out, Schulz believes he still faces a significant challenge and is fueled by his sense of purpose.
“This race has always been about two things – defeating RINO Anthony Gonzalez and ending the cycle of wealthy elitist insiders dominating our politics,” Schulz said in a statement on Thursday evening. “With the news of Mr. Gonzalez’s decision not to seek reelection, one of these goals has already been accomplished. Our grassroots campaign to empower the people and send an outsider to DC has gained massive support and it became clear to the Gonzalez team that they could not defeat us. But our mission is far from complete.
“We are still facing off against huge money and corrupt political insiders who are looking to fill the current void with Anthony Gonzalez 2.0. We The People cannot allow this happen,” he added. “We have an opportunity to send a Constitutional Conservative to DC. Someone who is not beholden to mega-donors and special interests and someone without an extensive criminal record plus new, corroborated allegations of domestic abuse.”
Some GOP strategists mirror Giunta’s viewpoint about the race.
“Schulz needs to get out of the race,” political consultant Harlan Hill told Politico. “Don’t split the Trump vote. It’s time to consolidate behind Max Miller. He’s got the endorsement.”
Another GOP consultant said, “You can’t win a primary in the middle of Ohio from Palm Beach,” while another strategist remarked that Max needs to get out of Mar-a-Lago and into Medina.”
Schulz understands that he doesn’t possess the funding and Trump endorsement of Miller. What he does have is unrelenting energy and determination to “knock on as many doors and talk to as many citizens in the six counties of the 16th district as I can so they understand who I am.”
Schulz is a Chardon native, Notre Dame Cathedral Latin High School graduate and Findlay University alumnus. He played college baseball and then independent professional baseball, chasing a Major League dream.
“After college, I envisioned reaching the majors. There was no Plan B,” said Schulz, who earned a degree in finance and operates a graphics, web design and social media business. “Baseball was always my focus. When that dream reached an end, I shifted my mindset. What is next? What can I do in this world? What is my purpose?”
At the time, Schulz was working in advertising sales, and that was not satisfying. He took a drive to visit a baseball field where he played as a kid, and that helped shape his future path.
“It was the site of my first All-Star game. The field had fallen into disrepair. The fences were rusted, the grass was overgrown and the outfield was sloping,” Schulz said. “I started Diamonds in the Rough, my first nonprofit, to renovate rundown baseball fields in underserved communities. We raised $160,000 in Twinsburg Township. The result was a new baseball diamond with dugouts, fencing and an immaculate field.”
His second nonprofit, Alliance of Indivisible Americans, was launched to “bring together people of backgrounds and ideologies in public service.” That organization plants urban gardens, hosts donation drives for the homeless, and gathers school supplies for youth centers among other initiatives.
“I was working at a food pantry in the east side of Cleveland. There were a few conservatives and most far-left Democrats,” he explained. “We joined together as a unit. It was impossible to dislike each other when working together to make other lives better.”
Schulz developed an interest in politics in elementary school, inspired by listening to Rush Limbaugh and “understanding that America has a special place in the world.”
His first memory of how what happens in Washington D.C. can impact life in northeast Ohio occurred with the Obama Administration instituted the Cash For Clunkers program.
“My dad was a car salesman. Since the auto industry was decimated, he took a second job painting houses and was exhausted when he returned home, but he did so to support his family and keep us in school,” Schulz said. “And you know what? I don’t remember a time when he was too tired or didn’t have the time to play catch and help me become a better baseball player.
“I can never repay what family has sacrificed for me, and I can never repay those who have shed blood to gain and preserve freedom. Yet we can honor them by carrying forward what they gave to us so upcoming generations can have the same freedom and same opportunities,” he added. “We all have the ability to serve. We are called to serve others. We need return a return of true public servants and citizen legislators, and that is what I will be.”
Schulz was partially motivated to run for Congress because Gonzalez voted to impeach President Trump, but his inspiration extends beyond that.
“This vote came with no due process and no evidence Just seven days before the end of trump’s term. It was an all-out assault on President Trump, Trump supporters and anyone who dares stand up to the corrupt establishment in Washington,” Schulz said. “That vote is just one reason why Anthony Gonzalez does not deserve to represent the 16th District. He supported and cheered on lockdowns that have put Ohioans into addiction, poverty, and despair; and destroyed jobs and businesses.
“He said Mike DeWine was striking all the right moves. Were they the right moves to close private businesses and shutter houses of worship, lock people in their homes and force people to wear disgusting piece of cloth over their faces? I think not,” Schulz added. “Any Republican that supported lockdowns or sat silently by must be voted out of office.
“I am running for congress to restore God-given rights. We don’t live in a country where rights are handed down by elected or unelected officials. Our rights are derived from our divine creator, and founding fathers understood this,” Schulz said.
Why now? Why, at 26, would you run for Congress? Schulz frequently fields these questions, especially from detractors who support Miller.
“I chose to run for office and represent the citizens of the 16th District because I understand I don’t have the luxury to sit on sidelines and watch as Democrats and establishment Republicans shred the constitution and stab Americans in the back,” Schulz said. “2022 is important. It won’t be good enough to just take back the house. If RINOs like Gonzalez, Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney occupy the House and Senate, we can expect more of the same. We must elect constitutional conservatives who honor and respect the constitution and stand up for American principles and values. I’m excited to be part of this movement.”
A typical day for Schulz involves maintaining his marketing business while also knocking on doors, making phone calls, coordinating volunteer efforts, and speaking at events. Whether it is the Knights of Columbus Hall in Mogadore to county fairs, freedom rallies, and meet and greets in Wooster, Ravenna, Strongsville, Medina and Canton among other communities, no crowd is too small, he believes.
”People tell me I don’t have enough money. That tells me everything we need to know about the political system. Ultimately, candidates are owned by people and groups,” Schulz said. “My supporters want an outsider who is not part of the system and is not beholden to wealthy donors.
“Our strategy is about earning the seat. We go to every event possible. We have a vast volunteer base. What will solve problems is coast to coast grassroots movement and people reclaiming liberty and demanding the opportunity to self-govern,” he said. “I will present my vision to as many people as humanly possible. When I look at the race, I don’t look at it just as a chance to win a seat. I see it as an opportunity to expand and further spark a movement that means something.”
Baseball was once Schulz’s passion. Now, there has a more prominent sense of purpose, he says.
“It is essential to end the political cycle that has only enabled wealthy elitists with deep insider connections to hold higher office,” he said. “Elitists play by a different set of rules and they are running our government. This will continue until we stand up and say elections cannot be bought and sold.
“We will outwork them in this campaign, and my work ethic now shows what I will do in D.C.” Schulz said. “I’m focused on something that is bigger than myself and devote all of my waking hours on something vastly more important than baseball and personal ambition. This is all about restoring and preserving rights and freedoms for present and future generations, and that gives me a sense of purpose.”