One Mahoning County Democratic Party official said it's too early to be talking about possible Traficant successors.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Should indicted U.S. Rep. James Traficant resign in the wake of corruption-related charges, state Sen. Robert F. Hagan said he would be interested in seeking the congressional seat.
Hagan, of Youngstown, D-33rd, said he's also considering running again against Traficant in 2002 if Traficant doesn't step down -- setting up a rematch of the 2000 Democratic congressional primary.
"I'm interested in the seat. Otherwise I wouldn't have run the last time," Hagan said Tuesday.
Hagan placed second in the 2000 primary against opponents including Traficant and Mahoning County Auditor George Tablack.
Traficant, who now faces a multicount federal indictment, was the leading vote-getter in the primary and prevailed in a crowded six-person field in the general election.
Wait and see: Hagan downplayed any talk about Traficant's seat, saying that the criminal justice system has to act on the charges.
"He has to have his day in court," Hagan said. "I think the justice system is the best in the world and it will make the determination."
If a House member is convicted, the House can remove the member. The seat is then vacated until the governor schedules a special election.
At least one Mahoning County Democratic Party official said it's too early to be talking about possible successors to Traficant.
"Democrats are hoping that the indictment will prove to be false and that the congressman will continue as elected by the people," said state Rep. Kenneth A. Carano of Austintown, D-65th, who is parliamentarian with the Mahoning County Democratic Party.
Other possibilities: Among others who are mentioned as possible Traficant successors are Lou D'Apolito, a Boardman lawyer who ran as an independent candidate last year in the general election; and Tablack, the Democratic county auditor.