The state senator says he has received calls from many labor leaders urging him to run for Congress.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- State Sen. Robert F. Hagan is now giving serious consideration to running for Congress against U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer of Akron in the new 17th District.
"The district looks winnable," Hagan, of Youngstown, D-33rd, said Tuesday. "With all due respect to Congressman Sawyer, the representative should come out of Mahoning County. I'm leaning heavily toward running."
Hagan, who would forgo a re-election bid to the state Senate to run for Congress, said he'd make an announcement later this week. He had previously said he was probably not going to run against Sawyer, a Democrat, because it would be "extremely difficult" to beat the eight-term congressman.
But Hagan, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress two years ago, said he changed his mind after receiving several calls from regional labor leaders. Sawyer voted in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which upset union leaders.
Labor endorsement: One major reason to run, Hagan said, is that he has support for the seat from the Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull United Auto Workers Community Action Program Council, which represents about 15,000 current and retired Lordstown General Motors workers. Hagan reconsidered his position about Congress after getting it.
Michael A. Aurilio, council chairman, said if Hagan runs for Congress, the group would support him, but has not yet made a formal endorsement.
Mahoning County Democratic Chairman David Ditzler called on Hagan to officially declare his candidacy and for the Valley to unite around him.
Redistricting plan: The state Legislature plans to finalize the redistricting plan this week. The plan breaks up the current 17th District, represented by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. of Poland, which consists of Mahoning County, all but 300 residents in Columbiana County and Trumbull County except its western portion.
The redistricting plan calls for the northeast portion of Mahoning -- including Youngstown, Campbell, Struthers, Lowellville, Coitsville, most of Austintown,-- and the western portion of Poland and all but seven northern townships in Trumbull in a district with most of Portage County and a portion of Summit County, including a part of Akron. Mahoning and Trumbull make up 58 percent of the residents in the proposed district.
Traficant, a Democrat, has said he plans to run for re-election, but has not said if he will challenge Sawyer or U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland. The rest of Mahoning along with Columbiana County is going to be a part of a 12-county district that runs along the eastern portion of the state. Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat, lives in that district.