Wilson's loss to Johnson in 2010 was a tough defeat for Democrats. Johnson tied Wilson to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and argued his votes for healthcare reform and the stimulus made him too liberal for the state, even though Wilson had a fiscally moderate record and supported gun rights. National groups chipped in to buy ads on both sides of the race, and Johnson beat Wilson 50-45. Johnson's district was redrawn in 2011 and became bigger, but also slightly more Republican, making it more difficult territory for Wilson than it was when he held the seat.

Republicans were quick to dismiss Wilson's chances. Ohio Republican Party spokesman Chris Maloney said Wilson had "punched Ohioans in the gut" by supporting the policies of Pelosi and Obama, offering a preview of a GOP strategy against Wilson that is likely to mirror the strategy they used effectively against him in 2010.

"Voters fired Congressman Charlie Wilson because his harmful record in Washington hurt Ohio's economy," Maloney said in a statement. "With his record of burdening Ohio families with mountains of debt, Ohio voters won't be hiring Congressman Charlie Wilson again."