The only candidate to file for the 17th District seat questions the rookie state senator's motivation to get into the congressional race.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The decision by state Sen. Timothy J. Ryan to run for the 17th Congressional District seat is raising the ire of the state representative who is already in the race.
The news that Ryan, a Warren Democrat, is getting into the race did not please state Rep. Anthony A. Latell Jr., a Girard Democrat and the only candidate to file thus far for the 17th District seat. Latell is not seeking re-election this year to the Ohio House so he can run for Congress. Ryan does not have to give up his state Senate seat to seek the congressional position. His Senate term expires at the end of 2004.
"He's been in the Senate for one year and has not accomplished anything," Latell said of Ryan. "People have to judge what his motivation is to run."
In response, Ryan said: "I'm sorry he feels that way. I don't think taking personal shots at me is productive at all. I'm not getting into the gutter with the other candidates. I'm not going to make this campaign personal. I don't question his motives for running."
Ryan replaced Latell in the Ohio Senate when state term limits prevented the Girard Democrat from seeking re-election in 2000. Latell, a former Trumbull County commissioner, is finishing his first term in the state House.
Others interested: U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat, has announced plans to run for the seat but has not yet filed his nominating petitions. U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., a Poland Democrat who is on trial in federal court on charges including bribery and racketeering, has not announced re-election plans, and is considering running in the 6th or the 17th districts as either a Democrat or independent.
John Keytack, a Warren Republican, is running for the post but has not yet filed, and state Rep. Ann Womer-Benjamin, an Aurora Republican, is considering entering the race.
The filing deadline is Thursday.
Latell's objections: Latell said Ryan's entering the race hurts the chances of getting someone from the Mahoning Valley elected to the new 17th District.
"If he really cares about someone from this area having a chance to win and represent this district, he wouldn't be doing this," Latell said.
Ryan said having two Trumbull candidates will not hurt his chances because Mahoning and Portage "are free game" and "not everyone in Summit County will vote for" Sawyer.
Not having Latell's years of political experience is a benefit, Ryan said.
"We've been practicing divisive politics for 25 years and look where that's gotten us," he said. "I have watched jobs and young people go away from this area."
The new 17th Congressional District, which takes effect next year, includes northeast Mahoning County, all but seven northern townships in Trumbull County, most of Portage County, and a portion of Summit County.
For Ryan, this is his first attempt at running for Congress. But Ryan, who has 14 months of elected political experience under his belt, has spent time on Capitol Hill.
Ryan worked as an intern for Traficant in June and July 1994 and as a staff assistant between Sept. 1, 1995, and Aug. 31, 1997.