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CONGRESS Latell mulls race in 17th



Published: Fri, January 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Sawyer is interested in running for state treasurer, a Democratic spokeswoman said.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

VIENNA -- One potential congressional candidate threw his hat in the ring today. Maybe.

State Rep. Anthony A. Latell Jr. officially announced his candidacy for Congress with the proviso that if he no longer feels by the Feb. 21 filing deadline that he is the best candidate, he would withdraw.

Latell, a Girard Democrat, had previously said he would run for the 17th Congressional District seat if U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., a Poland Democrat, opted not seek that post. Traficant is due to go on trial Feb. 4 on federal charges of racketeering and bribery.

Looking at options: Latell has taken out nominating petitions for Congress and his Ohio House seat. If he pulls out of the congressional race, Latell plans to run for re-election to the Ohio House.

Latell somewhat modified his position today, saying, "If Traficant files, we'll have to reassess. I believe the strongest candidate from this Valley should represent the Valley. If I don't believe I'm the strongest candidate then I'll reassess my position and make the decisions as we go. Anything is possible in that scenario."

Traficant lives in the new 6th Congressional District, but his office called the Mahoning County Board of Elections today asking for petitions for the new 17th District, which includes most of his current district.

A state redistricting plan splits Traficant's 17th District into three districts, but mostly in the new 17th and 6th Districts.

Also interested: State Sen. Robert F. Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat, is running for the 17th District seat. State Sen. Timothy Ryan, a Warren Democrat, is considering a run for the post.

U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat, lives in the 17th District and is mulling over his options. Dan Lucas, Sawyer's chief of staff, said earlier this week that the congressman would run for Congress, either in the 17th District or for the 13th District seat held by Sherrod Brown, a Lorain Democrat.

The Plain Dealer reported today that Sawyer has agreed to run for state treasurer against incumbent Joseph T. Deters, a Cincinnati Republican. When asked about that Wednesday by The Vindicator, Lucas said he spoke to Sawyer and the congressman called it "nonsense."

Reached this morning, Lucas said Sawyer is keeping all his options open, including state treasurer and Congress, and will have a decision on his political future shortly.

Lauren B. Worley, Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman, said she expects Sawyer to meet with party officials Saturday about the treasurer's position. Lucas said Sawyer is scheduled to attend a Democratic-issues retreat in Pennsylvania on Saturday and has no reason to believe the congressman is changing his plans.

"There have been discussions about him running for state treasurer and the party would love for him to run," Worley said. "I have no reason to believe he won't be here Saturday. He'd be a great asset to the ticket."

skolnick@vindy.com




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