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YOUNGSTOWN Tim Hagan accuses Taft of exploiting tragedy



Published: Sat, September 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Democratic candidate said Gov. Bob Taft has stooped to new lows.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Tim Hagan, a Democrat running next year for Ohio governor, says it is hard to participate in partisan politics in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks.

"But if we don't participate in the democratic process, the terrorists win," he said. "We do a terrible disservice if we don't say that in tough times, 'America believes in democracy.'"

It's one thing to discuss the campaign a week after terrorists attacked New York City and the Washington, D.C., area and something completely different to try to exploit the tragedy, Hagan said.

Hagan, who has strong ties to the Mahoning Valley, said he thinks it is disgusting for Gov. Bob Taft and fellow Republican state officials to use the tragedy as one of the reasons the Ohio Supreme Court should reconsider its decision on the funding of education.

The request earlier this week by Taft shows what Hagan calls the governor's failed leadership. Hagan was in Youngstown on Friday for the annual dinner of the John F. Kennedy Federated Democratic Women's Club of Mahoning County.

Hagan said he thinks Taft is a vulnerable candidate because of his record, but he acknowledges that beating the incumbent governor is going to be a major undertaking.

"Taft is a formidable opponent who has the money and resources," Hagan said. "It's a tough, uphill battle."

Valley native: Hagan, a former Cuyahoga County commissioner, grew up in Girard and is a son of the late Robert E. Hagan, a former Trumbull County commissioner and state legislator. One of Hagan's brothers is state Sen. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd.

A gubernatorial campaign would cost between $2 million and $6 million, Hagan said.

Also, Hagan said he would need the overwhelming support of Mahoning Valley voters if he is to win.

"I have to come out of the Valley with more than 65 percent to win," he said.

The dinner was Hagan's first public appearance in the Valley since he said in May that he was considering a gubernatorial run.

Hagan said that the Valley shaped his political philosophy and that he is proud of his connection to the area.

"I tell people I'm from Youngstown and they say, 'They've got some strange characters in Youngstown,'" he said. "I say, 'You don't know the people of Youngstown, their grit and their determination.'"

Woman of the year: The club honored Delores Jennings Crawford, director of Mahoning County's Job and Family Services, as its woman of the year at Friday's event. Jennings Crawford, the 2000 Athena award recipient, was praised by friends and colleagues for her civic involvement, her leadership skills and her compassion.

skolnick@vindy.com




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