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POLITICS Boccieri says his decision is best for Dems



Published: Mon, February 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state representative is looking for a leadership position in the Ohio House.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- State Rep. John Boccieri followed the wishes of labor leaders and state Democratic officials who wanted him to put his political ambitions aside for now and not run for state Senate.

"There was tremendous personal opportunity for me in the Senate," Boccieri said today. "But it would have been at the expense of the Valley."

Instead, Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat, will seek his second term in the Ohio House this year.

Boccieri said a Republican, probably from outside Mahoning County, would get his House seat if he didn't run for re-election. Boccieri said the state Senate seat he covets will almost definitely be held by a Democrat, regardless of whether he ran for it. So, Boccieri said, if he ran for the Senate, it would have cost Democrats a seat in the Legislature.

New district: A state redistricting plan, which takes effect next year, changes Boccieri's district, with Stark replacing Mahoning as the district's largest county. Also, the percentage of Democratic voters in the new district is 51 percent, 6 percent less than now.

Randy Pope, an Alliance Republican who was campaign manager for former state Rep. Ron Hood, is a candidate. Other Republicans expected to run are Ronald Barnhart of Beaver Township, who unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 2000, and Heather Plues of Goshen. Boccieri expects to face Pope in the November general election.

Labor poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Boccieri's successful 2000 campaign to defeat Hood, a six-year incumbent. Boccieri said he was contacted by labor leaders asking him not to run for state Senate.

"There was a lot of sweat equity on my part and their part," he said. "They were under the belief that we need to do what's best for the Valley."

House posts: Boccieri said he recently met with House Minority Leader Dean E. DePiero, who also asked him not to run and said there were leadership possibilities for him in the Ohio House if he ran for re-election. Boccieri said he would like to serve as minority whip next session.

Mahoning County Recorder Ronald V. Gerberry, an Austintown Democrat and former Ohio House member, is running for the Senate seat. Struthers Mayor Daniel Mamula is giving serious consideration to running and will make a decision this week.

skolnick@vindy.com




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