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POLITICS GOP leaders lend support to candidate



Published: Tue, August 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Democratic candidate plans to have the U.S. House minority whip campaign for him in September.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

WARREN -- A candidate obtaining endorsements from prominent politicians doesn't usually mean too much to the typical voter, but it can be the key to winning races, a political expert says.

"It's very rare that a politician is strong enough and powerful enough that their endorsement is significant," said John Green, director of the University of Akron's Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

More important than attracting headlines, the appearance of and endorsement by prominent political figures motivates the party faithful, who then are excited to campaign for a candidate, he said.

"Political appearances hardly cause ripples in most cases, but it can inspire the troops, who go out and mobilize the voters," Green said.

A little help

Ann Womer Benjamin, Republican candidate for the 17th Congressional District, is banking on the connection to GOP leaders to help her in her race.

U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee, stumped Monday for Womer Benjamin of Aurora, and was named her campaign co-chair. Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, Womer Benjamin's other campaign co-chair, will be by her side at a Thursday press conference. Earlier this summer, Gov. Bob Taft and Roy Blunt, U.S. House chief deputy whip, campaigned for her.

The most important endorsements in a race come from those who have connections to the area, Green said. That is why the support of Taft, Montgomery and Ney, who lives in St. Clairsville and currently represents a small section of Columbiana County, should benefit Womer Benjamin, Green said.

"The effect of a Blunt is only on the party faithful, who realize his importance and would probably be willing to open their checkbooks" for Womer Benjamin, he said.

Womer Benjamin said she will continue to bring major political figures to the Mahoning Valley to campaign for her because it shows her influence, power and ability to improve the congressional district if she is elected.

"People will pay attention to her in Washington" if she is elected, because she would have won in a Democratic-dominated district, Ney said. "She'll be able to get results."

Ryan's campaign

Democrat Timothy J. Ryan of Niles also plans to bring national politicians to the Valley to stump for him. Nancy Pelosi of California, U.S. House minority whip, will appear Sept. 21 for Ryan.

"You try to get media attention by bringing in politicians, and you hope it translates into votes," said Patrick Lowry, Ryan's campaign spokesman. "We're trying to get people of standing here and so is the other side. It's not a focus for us, but it is one aspect of the campaign."

Former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. of Poland, the third candidate in the race, is not able to campaign because he is serving an eight-year federal prison sentence for bribery, racketeering and tax evasion.

skolnick@vindy.com




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