The Democratic candidate says he expects to beat his Republican opponent on her home turf.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
NILES -- After taking it somewhat easy since his stunning victory in the May primary, Timothy J. Ryan, the Democratic nominee for the 17th Congressional District seat, is shifting his election campaign into high gear.
"We're starting to step it up," said Ryan of Niles, who was at Waddell Park in his hometown Monday, hosting a luncheon for seniors to discuss health issues.
Until recently, a large majority of the handful of public appearances Ryan made were to pick up union endorsements.
But Ryan attended numerous festivals over the weekend, and he and volunteers are going door-to-door in the congressional district drumming up support for his candidacy. He also expects to hold additional issues luncheons.
Ryan said people should expect to see him in a few weeks standing on street corners with signs waving at traffic. Some political experts scoffed at that political tactic during the primary campaign, but it turned out to be an effective tool for the Democrat.
"We had 18-hour days before the primary, and those days are starting up now," Ryan said.
The Democrat admits Ann Womer Benjamin of Aurora, his Republican opponent, has been much more active than he has since the primary.
"But she wasn't active before the primary because she didn't have any opposition then," he said.
Womer Benjamin has held numerous fund-raisers, run radio and television advertising, held almost weekly press conferences, including several with major political officeholders and has issued several press releases.
"We've been campaigning hard everywhere in the district," said David All, Womer Benjamin's campaign manager. "We've been consistently getting our message out. [Ryan] sees we've been out working, and we'll continue to work harder than he does."
Womer Benjamin and her supporters have knocked on 5,000 doors in Trumbull and Portage counties, All said.
The 17th District will include, beginning next year, portions of Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage and Summit counties.
Since 2001, Ryan has served as a state senator representing Trumbull County. Womer Benjamin has represented most of Portage County in the Ohio House for nearly eight years.
Ryan, who won the Democratic primary despite faring poorly in Portage, issued a bold statement Monday saying he expects to beat Womer Benjamin on her home turf.
"Our goal is to win Portage," Ryan said. "If we win Portage, we should have no trouble winning the election. We're going to meet with people at bars and restaurants in Portage County, and we'll be at the county fair. We've had a good reaction in Portage."
All said Portage County residents know Womer Benjamin best and are expected to strongly support her Nov. 5.
"We haven't seen or heard Mr. Ryan in Portage County," All said. "Our main focus is the entire district, but you can definitely say that Ann is very well known" in Portage.
There are also two independent candidates in the race: former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant of Poland, who is serving an eight-year sentence in a federal prison in Pennsylvania, and former labor leader Warren Davis of Akron.
Traficant cannot make any public appearances or do any campaigning.
Davis has been relatively quiet since June when the United Auto Workers, his union for 48 years, including 19 years as a regional director, withdrew its endorsement of him and eliminated his district.