Time may be running out for Democratic contenders. Election petitions are due by March 12.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Matthew Mangino hasn't ruled out running for the U.S. House of Representatives this spring.
Mangino, who is Lawrence County's district attorney, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for the 4th Congressional District in 2000. The 4th District includes Lawrence and Beaver counties and parts of Allegheny, Butler and Mercer counties.
Mangino came in second in the 2000 Democratic primary.
Republican Melissa Hart of Bradford Woods eventually won the seat and recently announced her candidacy for re-election. She appears to be unopposed on the Republican ballot.
Another candidate: Steven Drobac Jr. of Center Township, Beaver County, a furloughed U.S. Air employee who has never held public office, is the only person to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.
Drobac said he has little money for the campaign and is still working on drumming up support from local Democratic Party leaders.
Mangino, by comparison, says he's been contacted by party leaders about running.
"I've been approached by a number of people in the district, including other elected officials," he said.
But, Mangino said, he wants to know what kind of support the Democratic Party is offering before he makes any decisions.
"If they are looking for a candidate to run just so Melissa Hart doesn't get a free ride this election, I'm not interested. But if they are willing to make a commitment, I'm willing to listen to what they have to say," he said.
Mangino said he may go to Washington, D.C., sometime in the next few weeks to gauge support from the Democratic Party.
Here's the situation: Time, however, is running out for any Democratic contender.
Election petitions requiring 1,000 signatures are due by March 12.
Mangino said he will likely start circulating petitions and then decide if he wants to be a candidate.
He said he's only interested in running if there is support from the Democratic Party.
"There would have to be a full consensus to rally behind the candidate in manpower and finances," he said.
He noted at this time during his last bid for the Democratic nomination, he had already raised in excess of $100,000. But getting a late start in this election might not be a bad thing, Mangino noted.
"When the primary ended last time, the Democratic candidate was broke and had been through a difficult primary. A [Democratic candidate] might be better off this year even though they will get a late start," he said.