The state chamber also endorsed four area Democrats for re-election.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee has identified state Rep. Charles Blasdel as one of its six "Chamber Choice" candidates running for the state House this year.
The "Chamber Choice" designation denotes candidates whom the chamber's PAC considers to be strongly pro-business and are engaged in competitive elections where additional resources and support from Ohio's business community could decide the race.
Blasdel, an East Liverpool Republican who is running for his second term, is being challenged by Democrat Frank Rivelle of Wellsville.
This is the second time Blasdel has been identified as a Chamber Choice, getting that distinction when he ran in 2000. He received a $2,500 campaign contribution from the chamber in 2000 and expects the same this year.
"It is a great honor to have the largest business organization in the state of Ohio saying I'm doing a good job and fostering an environment where their members are succeeding," Blasdel said. "This is a chance for the chamber to recognize people in standout races."
Rivelle sees it differently.
"There's a good possibility he's getting the chamber's endorsement because they believe I can beat him," Rivelle said. "We stand an excellent chance of winning this seat."
Blasdel said the chamber identified his race as one of its key races in the state because his district usually elects Democrats to the state House. Blasdel said he is the first Republican elected to the seat in the past 30 years. The district includes all of Columbiana County.
Ohio Chamber President Andrew E. Doehrel said in a prepared statement that the Chamber Choice candidates "will be champions of free enterprise and advocates for strengthening the business climate in Ohio."
The other five Chamber Choice candidates were from outside the Mahoning Valley.
Although not selected as Chamber Choices, other Valley candidates received the chamber's endorsement.
The organization is supporting the re-election efforts of state Reps. Kenneth A. Carano, an Austintown Democrat, in the new 59th District; Sylvester Patton Jr., a Youngstown Democrat, in the new 60th District; John Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat, in the new 61st District; Timothy Grendell, a Chesterland Republican, in the new 98th District; and L. George Distel, a Conneaut Democrat, in the new 99th District.
The chamber did not endorse candidates in the new 64th and 65th Ohio House Districts, which make up most of Trumbull County, nor in the 33rd Ohio Senate District race which pits Democrat Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, the incumbent, against Holly Hanni of Boardman, his Republican challenger.
The chamber said in districts in which no endorsement was issued, it is continuing to gather information on the races and could endorse a candidate in the future.