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6TH, 17TH DISTRICTS It's crunch time for Congress hopefuls



Published: Mon, February 18, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Thursday is the filing deadline for partisan candidates to run for the congressional seats.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- It's coming down to the wire for those considering runs in the 6th and 17th congressional districts.

In the 17th race, there are three announced candidates. In the 6th District race, there are two announced candidates. But several people are weighing their options and pondering runs for the seats.

The incumbents in both races -- U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat now representing the 14th District, but running for a seat in the 17th, and U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat, in the 6th -- have announced their intentions to seek re-election although neither has filed his nominating petition.

Deadline to file: Sawyer, Strickland and anyone else running for the congressional seats have until Thursday to file for the positions as a political party candidate. Independent candidates do not have to file until May 6, the day before the partisan primaries are held.

The 17th District includes northeast Mahoning County, all but seven northern townships in Trumbull County, most of Portage County and a portion of Summit County.

The 6th District runs about 300 miles along the eastern border of Ohio and through 12 counties. It includes Columbiana County and Mahoning County, except its northeast portion.

The only candidate to file nominating petitions for the 17th District seat is state Rep. Anthony A. Latell Jr., a Girard Democrat. Besides Latell and Sawyer, the only other person who says he is in the race is John Keytack, a Warren Republican.

Still undecided: Then there's the potential candidates for the 17th:

U State Sen. Timothy Ryan, a Warren Democrat. Ryan is circulating nominating petitions for the position, but has not decided if he will run. "I'm not going to get into it unless I think I can win it," he said.

U State Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin, an Aurora Republican, who is leaning toward running.

U Judge Maureen Cronin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who is leaning against running for the seat.

U Former U.S. Rep. Lyle Williams, a Lordstown Republican, also is considering a run for the 6th District seat.

U U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., a Poland Democrat on trial in federal court on charges including bribery and racketeering. Traficant is considering running for either the 17th or the 6th seats as a Democrat as well as possibly seeking either seat as an independent candidate. Traficant's close advisers are urging him to announce quickly, but the nine-term congressman has not made a final decision.

In the 6th District, Lou A. D'Apolito, a Boardman Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for Congress two years ago, is the only candidate to file for that congressional seat.

Other possibilities: Besides D'Apolito and Strickland, other possible candidates for the 6th District include:

U Michael Halleck, a former Columbiana County commissioner and a Salem Republican.

U Mahoning County Commissioner Ed Reese, a Boardman Democrat.

U Former U.S. Rep. Frank Cremeans, a Gallipolis Republican who beat Strickland in 1994 and lost to him in 1996.

U Charles Brown, a Yorkville Democrat. The retired mine worker took out nominating petitions for the seat.

U Traficant.

U Williams.

Frank Dawson, an East Liverpool Republican who was high on the list of Mahoning GOP Chairman Clarence Smith and Dave Johnson, former Columbiana Republican chairman, has opted not to run.

Johnson, a key Republican player in Mahoning Valley politics, recently met with Reese to talk to him about his candidacy. Johnson said his primary goal is to have a strong Valley candidate, regardless of political affiliation, run in the 6th District.

"I can see us working well with Reese," Johnson said. "If Reese is interested, we'd have a horse in each primary [referring to a Republican run by Halleck]. Whoever emerges out of it is in strong shape. If both emerge, we couldn't lose. We'd have a winner for the Valley."

skolnick@vindy.com




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