Two of the candidates are focusing their attention on the district's four upper counties.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
SALEM --The 6th Congressional District's Republican primary is expected to be one of the most competitive races May 7.
The primary pits Lyle Williams, a former three-term U.S. House member, against Mike Halleck, a former Columbiana County commissioner who has lined up the support of a majority of the GOP chairmen in the 12-county district.
"I take every challenge seriously," said Halleck, of Salem. "Anytime you run against someone with that name ID you have to take it seriously."
In the days leading up to the primary, it's all about getting your name recognized, said Williams, of Lordstown.
"It's not an issue-oriented campaign for the primary," he said. "It's about getting your name out there. It's a name ID campaign right now."
Not a problem
Both candidates acknowledge their name recognition is not terribly strong in the southern portion of the 12-county district. But Williams and Halleck don't see that as a problem.
That is because a majority of the 6th District's population is in the district's four upper counties -- Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont. That is where the two are focusing their attention.
Columbiana County and Mahoning County, except its northeastern part, were put in the sprawling 6th District that stretches for more than 300 miles along the eastern portion of Ohio as part of a statewide redistricting plan.
The incumbent congressman in the district is U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat, who lives at the opposite end of the district.
"The largest reason I ran is it is very conceivable that we will not have a congressman from the Mahoning Valley," Halleck said.
He added that he was going to be "prejudiced to this area," but has no plans to ignore the concerns of the district's southern portion.
The winner of the Republican primary will take on the winner of the three-person Democratic primary and anyone who files as an independent candidate during the November election.
For the Valley to be properly represented in Congress, it needs to elect an experienced politician, said Williams, who served six years in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1979 and 1985.
"If I go back, I get my seniority and would have almost as much as Strickland," Williams said. "I know how to write legislation and how to serve a constituency."
Williams and Halleck say bringing jobs to the district is the biggest challenge facing them if they are elected to Congress.
Halleck wants to promote new coal technologies that will bring more jobs to the southern part of the district, which counts coal production as one of its largest industries.
Williams wants to pass laws to strengthen the steel industry and increase the amount of federal money going toward local small businesses.