The new congressional district stretches more than 300 miles through 12 counties along the eastern border of the state.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
A four-term congressman from the southern part of the state is being challenged in the 6th Congressional District's Democratic primary by two candidates who have never held office.
The 12-county 6th District stretches more than 300 miles from Columbiana County and Mahoning County, except for its northeastern portion, along the eastern border of the state. U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, who lives in Lucasville, the southernmost portion of the district, is running for re-election against Boardman attorney Lou A. D'Apolito and Yorkville businessman Charles Brown.
D'Apolito ran for a congressional seat two years ago, finishing a distant fourth among six candidates in a race won by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. Brown has never run for political office before.
D'Apolito's strategy is to focus on the upper four counties in the district -- Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont -- where a majority of the district's population is located.
"I think the heaviest populated part of the district deserves to have the congressman come from their ranks," D'Apolito said.
Brown, whose business takes him to the 12 counties in the congressional district, said he is very familiar with the area and is best suited to serve as congressman.
Strickland, who plans to move from Lucasville to a central location in the district, said he has proved since the congressional district was redrawn by the state Legislature that he is committed to serving both the northern and southern portions of the district.
"I've spent more time within the counties of Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont than [D'Apolito] has in the past two-and-a-half months," Strickland said.
Because of the power of incumbency and his ability to outspend the two Democratic primary challengers, Strickland is seen as the favorite.
Expect tight race
D'Apolito and Brown say they have received strong receptions from people in the northern part of the district and expect a tight race. Strickland said he is not taking his opponents lightly, but data from a poll he has taken show him with an overwhelming advantage.
D'Apolito said that if he's elected, his top priorities are to hire a grant writer and an economic development expert for his staff, who would help the district get federal dollars for worthwhile projects, and to pass legislation for a national prescription drug plan for seniors.
Strickland, who has supported a prescription drug plan for seniors for years, said that remains one of his top priorities. Strickland also wants a revamped national energy policy, which includes the use of more coal and the safe use of nuclear energy, and less dependence on foreign power sources.
Brown wants to strengthen veterans rights -- in particular, improving their medical coverage -- as well as to spend more money on education and technology.