Valley Republicans vow to have candidates for both congressional seats.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County Commissioner Ed Reese is giving serious consideration to running for the 6th Congressional District seat, while common pleas Judge Maureen Cronin is keeping her options open as a potential candidate for the 17th District seat.
Reese, a Boardman Democrat, will meet with U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat running for re-election, and with Democratic leaders in the southern part of the 12-county 6th Congressional District before announcing his decision by the end of next week.
The statewide redistricting plan, which takes effect next year, puts northeastern Mahoning County in the 17th District and the rest in the 6th District. It also places incumbent congressmen from outside the Valley in each district, Strickland in the 6th and Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat, in the 17th.
"I don't want to see two congressmen representing Mahoning County and neither one of them from here," Reese said. "It's a territorial issue."
Campaign plans: If Reese runs, he'll concentrate most of his campaign on the four northern counties in the district: Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont, which make up a majority of the district's residents.
Reese recognizes that he faces a stiff challenge in taking on Strickland, a four-term incumbent with a $577,611 campaign fund.
Besides Strickland, the only other declared candidate for the 6th District seat is Boardman attorney Lou A. D'Apolito, who finished a distant fourth when he ran for Congress two years ago.
Republicans looking at running for the seat include Michael Halleck of Salem, a former Columbiana County commissioner, and former U.S. Rep. Lyle Williams of Lordstown.
The filing deadline is Feb. 21.
Leaning a little: Judge Cronin, a Youngstown Democrat, said she is leaning toward not running for the 17th District but has not made a final decision.
"If things continue to go the way they are, which is absolutely another black eye on this community, I might just retire [as judge] and run," she said.
The judge said she is concerned that U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., the Poland Democrat on trial in federal court on bribery and racketeering charges, could remain in Congress either while under indictment or while under appeal if he is found guilty, and about continued infighting in the local Democratic Party.
"It's a what-if, what-if, what-if right now; I don't know. I'm not discounting anything. I never close a door," she said.
Valley Republicans are promising to field candidates in both congressional races.
Party leaders plan to meet privately early next week with state GOP leaders.
Valley candidates: "I wouldn't rule out an independent candidate or even scenarios with some Democrats because I want Valley representatives in both seats," said Dave Johnson, a former Columbiana County GOP chairman. "It is of paramount importance that we have Valley candidates."
Announcements on the Republican candidates for the two congressional seats should be made late next week, Johnson said.
Traficant plans to run for re-election, probably in the 17th District.
Announced candidates for the 17th District are state Rep. Anthony A. Latell Jr., a Girard Democrat, and John Keytack, a Warren Republican.
Sawyer appears to be moving toward running in the 17th District. State Sen. Timothy Ryan, a Warren Democrat, is considering a run.
Hagan pulls out: State Sen. Robert F. Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat, withdrew, saying the field is getting too crowded.
Hagan said that he isn't prepared to endorse a candidate but that he would definitely support Sawyer over Traficant.
David Ditzler, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, said he wants to find qualified Mahoning County candidates, but if they could not be found, he would support Sawyer or Latell over Traficant, and Strickland.