YOUNGSTOWN Hagan sets sights on U.S. House
A state representative and the Mahoning County recorder plan to run for state Senate.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Robert F. Hagan will not seek re-election to the state Senate and will instead try again to capture a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"The Mahoning Valley deserves to have representation in Washington," said Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat. "I think the numbers in the new district point in my favor."
By running for the proposed 17th Congressional District seat, Hagan of Youngstown would not be permitted to seek re-election this year to the state Senate.
State Rep. John Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat, and Mahoning County Recorder Ronald V. Gerberry, an Austintown Democrat who is a former state representative, say they will run to replace Hagan in the Senate.
Boccieri said he already has obtained nominating petitions for the position. Gerberry has previously said he would run for whatever seat Hagan opted to not seek.
Going for 17th District: Hagan would run for a seat in the proposed 17th District, which would include the northeast portion of Mahoning County, all but seven northern townships in Trumbull County, most of Portage County and a portion of Summit County, including four of Akron's 10 wards.
Trumbull makes up 34 percent of the residents in the proposed district and Mahoning makes up 24 percent, giving the Valley a majority of the district's residents. Also, Youngstown would have the most registered voters in it.
The Ohio General Assembly approved the redistricting plan and it is expected to be signed into law shortly by Gov. Bob Taft.
One endorsement: Hagan, D-33rd, has a commitment from the Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull United Auto Workers Community Action Program Council, which represents about 15,000 Lordstown General Motors workers and retirees, that it will endorse his candidacy.
While Hagan is in the race, his opponents are still unknown.
U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat who lives in the district, is planning on running for Congress this year, said Dan Lucas, his chief of staff.
But Sawyer has not decided if he'll run in the 17th District or in the congressional district that includes Akron's six other wards and about half of Summit County, Lucas said. U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Lorain Democrat, lives in that district and is expected to run for that seat.
Hagan said Sawyer is probably reconsidering after looking at the number of registered Democratic voters in the proposed district and realizing the figures are in favor of a Valley candidate.
But political observers say Sawyer's advantages over a Valley candidate are great including his power of incumbency and his ability to raise money for his campaign.
Traficant could run: Another potential candidate is U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., a Poland Democrat who turned back Hagan's challenge in the 2000 Democratic congressional primary. The state redistricting plan eliminates Traficant's district and places his home in Poland in the same district as U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat.
Traficant has not decided in which congressional district he'll run.
Also, state Sen. Timothy Ryan, a Warren Democrat, and state Rep. Anthony A. Latell Jr., a Girard Democrat, are considering running for the 17th Congressional seat.
Ryan, who does not have to give up his Senate seat to run, said Hagan's announcement and the support given to his candidacy by the UAW will not affect his decision.
"To me, the district provides a ton of opportunity" to win, Ryan said. "Trumbull clearly has the advantage. Sawyer's going to be tough to beat. But I don't have anything to lose."
Latell said he would take out nominating petitions for his House seat and Congress, but that his decision is based solely on Traficant. If Traficant files for the 17th District seat, Latell will run for re-election to the Ohio House. If Traficant doesn't run for that congressional seat, Latell is in the race.