Friends, my name is Tom Poetter. I'm a college professor in the field of Education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I got in the race for this seat in October during the government shutdown. Like many around the country, I was fed up with the lack of leadership and a lack of care for our democratic institutions and way of life. We have been running now for 9 months, making great progress and learning a lot. Our goal is to challenge and end Boehner's 12-term hold on this region and bring leadership and representation back to the office and the people of western Ohio. As we say sometimes, voters won't be losing a Speaker; they will be gaining a representative.

We are raising money from small donors to challenge Boehner on the ground. Please donate here:

and visit our website for more information:


EDIT: Thanks for everyone's participation in our AMA today. We enjoyed the give and take, your sense of humor, your serious questions. We are going to break now and come back at an appointed time, hopefully one that we can work out with Reddit that is posted in the near future. Tom

Comments: 1889 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

Mythicmoogle276 karma

First off, good luck! Secondly what kind of policies are you for/against speaking in terms of the more controversial topics(abortion, gay rights, legalization of marijuana)?

TomPoetter936 karma

Thanks for the question. I have always been pro-choice. I am fully supportive of gay rights including the legalization of gay marriage, and full extension of rights to gay couples and individuals. I am for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Mythicmoogle59 karma

Awesome! How do you plan to deal with opposition to those ideals?

Lordcrunchyfrog349 karma

Probably by losing the election.

TomPoetter373 karma

By the way, we know what the odds are.

reddit_troll_account273 karma

Okay this is serious. How do you pronounce your last name?

I had the same problem with Boehner.

ejjaccident694 karma

Boner vs Peter 2016, the year of the peen

TomPoetter588 karma

pretty good one.

TomPoetter307 karma

I pronounce my last name "Petter" The e is short as in pet.

Acksull206 karma

8 year olds, dude.

TomPoetter638 karma

Is this your homework, Larry?

sewsewsewyourboat138 karma

How would you say that your career as professor in education would help you better represent Ohio than Boehner currently does?

TomPoetter300 karma

I actually understand the state of public education and what current law, such as NCLB, has done to teaching and schools. This is one place where I part with the President and the administration. NCLB constricted teachers and schools, it forced them to compromise their educational missions and cater to tests. Now we have the imminent threat of further corporatization and privatization of our public schools. We should be outraged about this and fight for lost ground.

chemlabrat69 karma

I agree with you that NCLB has created a teach towards the test kind of system. It also didn't make sense to me that they would pull critical funding from schools that did not do well, like taking the last crutch from someone with a broken leg. I was working towards teacher certification in college but the complexity and stress of the system ultimately caused me to abandon it and go to grad school to ultimately work in industry or teach at the collegiate level.

What are your views on the common core controversy? /r/conservative often calls it backwards as well. If all of these methods for standardization have failed, do you have any ideas as an educator as to how to improve national education and/or implement a system of standardization that actually works?

TomPoetter78 karma

Nebraska actually had a locally governed system of standards and evaluation that worked for a period before pressures to standardize undid them. I think that each state should set its own standards and create a more authentic assessment system of student progress. It would be more local, cheaper, and contribute to student learning.

Mrsylvestermcbean21 karma

Thanks for a clear answer. I mirror /u/chemlabrat 's question; what would a reformed education system look like?

TomPoetter47 karma

I actually wrote a book published in 2006 entitled "The Education of Sam Sanders" by Hamilton Books about what a "renewed" public school system would look like. You can find a copy in a library and read my vision on the subject.

robbob009124 karma

Can you sum up in one sentence why you're a better candidate than Boehner?

TomPoetter278 karma

Leeway? Two sentences. I won't shut down the US government and cost citizens $24billion in the process nor will I sue the POTUS using TAXPAYER MONEY! I will serve the citizens of District 8, not my own interests or the interests of corporations.

ra1101120 karma

I care about research because groundbreaking treatments for x-linked agammaglobulinemia saved my cousin’s life. Government has been investing in medical progress for more than a century, but funding for research has slipped over the last decade. What do you think Congress should do next?

An organization I’m affiliated with is asking candidates for their position on medical progress as part of a national, non-partisan voter education initiative called Ask Your Candidates (

TomPoetter170 karma

I am supportive of advanced scientific research. Funding it should be a national priority. My siblings are in the fields or genetics and medicine and understand the importance to the public and to the world of putting our best minds to work on key issues in science. I think a coalition of progressive minded representatives across the aisles should work together to push funding of advanced scientific research. It's one of the many things that we are really good at, that is scientific research. We need to work on working across the aisle!

itsotter75 karma

With Cantor's recent loss to another college professor (whose libertarian leanings gave him Tea Party support), I feel it's germane to ask about your ideological background. Who influences you philosophically?

I'm hoping that your answer will provide a counterpoint to Paul Ryan droning on about how Ayn Rand blew his teenage mind.

TomPoetter146 karma

As a scholar, I would say John Dewey. I am a pragmatist, and a progressive. I think people can make a difference in the world, acting independently and together. We build strong communities and make ideas happen when we work together and commit ourselves to ideas such as equity, justice, and freedom.

PleasedToBeefYou72 karma

I used to live in the district. Do you think you can win when you say things like:

The Affordable Care Act should not be repealed.


Let’s pass an immigration bill that provides security and opens possibilities for residents to gain full citizenship.

The people in the district are pretty ignorant, and I saw all these "war on coal!" signs and such everywhere.

How do you plan to speak to these voters?

edit I like how the district is cleverly drawn to avoid Dayton and to capture all the conservative rural idiots. How the fuck is not this gerrymandering?

TomPoetter83 karma

Great question. We can win because the truth of the matter is that the ACA is working and will work. It's good for everyone, long term, for more Americans to be covered and to be healthier. At this point, a comprehensive discussion and passage of law to re-envision immigration policy is critical to our life as a nation. The border situation is a flashpoint for this and should call us forward to action.

malfean59 karma

In response to another question, you stated that you support decriminalization of marijuana. Does this mean that you do not support the legalization of cannabis for medical or recreational use? And if this is the case, can you explain why you feel this way?

TomPoetter89 karma

I support the legalization of marijuana for medical use. If push came to shove, and I think this is a very complicated issue, I would support laws that legalize marijuana.

A_Drunk_Toddler57 karma

How much of your time is dedicated to fundraising and what do you think our government would be like if corporate/special interest money was not allowed for campaigns?

TomPoetter81 karma

Great question. I spend a lot of time on the phone. If I don't, we can't do the things we want to do to reach voters directly. Of course, all the time I'm wondering how it is we could have a more equitable system for funding candidates. This is a real conundrum that our nation, at some point, has to face. After all, who will be able to run? Just the monied, political class? Citizens need to be able to run, and I am running.

Mongopwn55 karma

What is your opinion of the NSA's data collection activities? Do you believe they are operating properly and within the letter of the law?

TomPoetter55 karma

I think even the administration knows that we have breached in certain ways the right to privacy of all our citizens. I am hopeful that we can get this under control and that we can live with more freedom from surveillance than we have now.

misogoop634 karma

Will you form a band called Tom Poetter and The Heartbreakers?

TomPoetter30 karma

Wish we were appearing at Mac N Joes in Oxford next weekend, that would be fun.

Carduus_Benedictus28 karma

With the redistricting of 2010, Boehner took the rest of deep-red Butler County and all of mostly-red Clark county to shore up his position. If you're still in office in 2020, can you give any campaign pledges about nonpartisan district lines?

ArcadeNineFire49 karma

It's a legitimate question, but it should be noted that the state legislature draws district lines, not Congress.

Carduus_Benedictus20 karma

So perhaps the question should be whether he'll stump for Democrats for Ohio congress if elected.

TomPoetter23 karma

Of course, I will. I already am stumping for our excellent slate of state wide and state house candidates.

cvillemade14 karma

Can you please win?

TomPoetter50 karma

Can we please win? Yes, we can win if people around the country and citizens in Western Ohio make it a priority to support us with contributions: And if citizens show up at the polls in November. We need to treat this as something other than a "mid-term" election. November is the time for citizens to speak to power at the polls.

HauteConversion12 karma

Boehner may have very well put himself in position to lose his leadership role, but nothing has indicated that he's anything above remotely vulnerable to keep his seat. The 8th was drawn to his overwhelming advantage, and he's light years ahead of you in fundraising. Because of that, neither the national caucus or Redfern are going to throw a bunch of money away on your campaign. Your chances of victory are incredibly small, you know it, I know it, everybody knows it.

I guess I'm curious as to what you actually hope to achieve by running for Congress?

TomPoetter46 karma

It is ALWAYS worth it to challenge power.

jenkinsmcjenkins12 karma

With your background in Education, what are your thoughts on Common Core?

TomPoetter34 karma

As an educator, standards have always been in place and they are important. But the common core standards were not created by teachers and feed corporate entities that want to control the curriculum, evaluation of students and teachers. I would like to explore the creation of "evaluation zones," geographic zones where public schools and colleges/universities work together to create standards and assessments that are more authentic and oriented toward critical thinking.

beast120012 karma

What is your stand on term limits? Carrer politicains? Good luck

TomPoetter44 karma

Here's what I think, and over the past nine months I have thought a lot about this. First, I think 4, two year terms is plenty. 8 years term limit for the US House. Second, I don't think that the House should be filled with career politicians. It should be filled with citizens who want to serve their country and not enrich themselves. After a short stint in congress, I intend to go back to teaching and writing.

SomeGuyNamedDJ5 karma

I work on campaigns and I just have one simple question that will make your fundraising coordinator very happy.

Did you make your calls today?

TomPoetter3 karma

Yes, I did. Talked to some great, supportive people, too!

CarbonDe5 karma

Do you plan on going to door to door to speak with voters directly? I don't know how it is in Ohio, but it's a pretty time honored tradition here in maine.

TomPoetter7 karma

We started our ground campaign last weekend July 12 in Middletown. We were in Hamilton this past Saturday. We will be in Springfield next Saturday July 26. Our ground campaign and phone banking will pick up as we gain volunteers and momentum. The only way to win votes is to make direct contact with voters. This is our focus.

Mox_au3 karma

this would have been way cooler if you were tom petty?
sorry, have to say that in the form of a question or mods will delete it

TomPoetter8 karma

No one gets my name right. You can call me Tom Petty if you want to, I would answer to it, and in fact have many times in my life.

busuku2 karma

What are your views on Citizen's United and the rights of corporations?

TomPoetter6 karma

Corporations are not people. I think that we are on a slippery slope, especially with the Hobby Lobby decision. The slippery slope is losing our personal freedoms at the expense of corporate agendas/wills.

dangerdark1 karma

A politician comes on reddit and spits out all the right answers to pander to the mob? Shocking. I've got odds if we wanted a picture you'd be wearing a legalize it shirt that has a pot leaf painted as a rainbow and a fedora because you're a hip, laid back guy who can also be part of inside jokes. (lol guyz!)

I'm sure like most politicians this will end up fantastically. Please, though, do go on and tell us how you're different and why you're better and how everything is going to change just as long as we help you get that piece of the pie.

TomPoetter1 karma

There are good people running for office who represent your views and they need your support.

Frizz4real0 karma

Hi Tom, I live and vote in the 8th district of Ohio. I am always open to vote for the best candidate, however I’m just not sure voting out the Speaker of the House of Representatives would be good for the district. What do you think? Am I making too much of this?

TomPoetter1 karma

Great question, one that others have surfaced face to face and on the phone. My answer is that the Speaker does not represent the citizens of District 8. The things he believes in and supports and will or won't bring to the floor of the house for a vote disadvantages everyone, even the people who support and believe in him. As I have said in another post, District 8 gains a representative when they vote me in on November 4.

The Speaker does not campaign in this district. He does not have a presence in the district. He is a national figure and as such, he is distanced from the concerns of the people he represents.

therandompoopsman-3 karma

Yo ToPo,

Few questions:

What's the best song you've heard in the last week? Why?

What's the best Boehner joke you've heard on the campaign trail?

You're speaking to a high school dropout who's a registered voter and his hard working single mother who he still lives with: why should they vote for you?


TomPoetter2 karma

Best song: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? by Chicago. I was cranking 70s tunes with my son the other day. Best Boehner joke (and best joke I've ever heard) was the President's remark: "Orange is the new Black" at the spring press dinner (Nerd Prom). We like to say: "Vote Poetter; It's a No Boehner!"

There is nothing that the opponent offers to you in District 8. We care about the region, jobs, security, well-being, health. We will represent you and fight for you.