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17TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT Independents Traficant, Davis lag in campaign fund raising



Published: Tue, July 16, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Republican candidate raised more than $120,000 toward her election campaign during the first half of the year.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. and former labor leader Warren Davis -- the two independent candidates in the 17th Congressional District race -- haven't raised much money toward their campaigns.

And, unfortunately for them, it appears that the best times for them to raise the cash they need to compete with Republican Ann Womer Benjamin and Democrat Timothy J. Ryan have passed them by.

Traficant, of Poland, a felon who is facing the very real possibility of becoming only the fifth congressman in the nation's history to be expelled, has seen the amount of money he raises for his re-election campaign virtually dry up.

Traficant raised only $1,295 between April 18 and June 30, according to a financial disclosure report his campaign filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission. Of that amount, $1,000 came from Kate C. Thompson, a retired Port Washington woman. The remaining $295 came from "unitemized" contributions.

Traficant's troubles

Traficant, convicted on 10 felony counts April 11, has raised only $3,235 from contributors this year.

Traficant has had much trouble this year raising any money from supporters in light of his conviction and likely expulsion from the House.

Traficant's campaign also continues to spend much more than it brings in. Traficant spent $9,435 between April 18 and June 30, and had spent $8,622 in the first three months of the year. Most of Traficant's expenses are for flowers, food and cellular telephone bills.

Traficant still has $33,745 in his campaign war chest, left over from previous campaigns.

Worse for Davis

For Davis, of Akron, the situation is even worse.

Davis, who had a major falling out with the United Auto Workers over his decision to run for re-election to a regional director position he held for 19 years, raised $14,267. All of the money either came from him or UAW officials and the UAW's political action committee before his problems with the union came to a head last month.

Since then, two union officials asked for and had their $1,000 contributions to Davis returned.

Davis has also given his campaign a $10,000 loan.

In comparison, Ryan raised $172,555 this year, including $147,285 between April 18 and June 30. Womer Benjamin of Aurora raised $85,470 between April 18 and June 30, and $120,390 this year.

Ryan, who had a contested primary, spent $118,891 the first half of the year, including $96,375 between April 18 and June 30.

Womer Benjamin, who ran unopposed for the Republican nomination, spent $79,582 on the campaign, including $79,307between April 18 and June 30.

Among Womer Benjamin's contributors is U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Madison Republican who has been close friends with Traficant over the years and is a member of the ethics subcommittee considering Traficant's expulsion.

Sawyer's finances

U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer of Akron, and those who incorrectly thought he would easily win the Democratic primary for the 17th Congressional District seat, found out that incumbency and money don't always guarantee victory.

Sawyer, who finished a distant second to Ryan, raised $82,757 between April 18 and June 30, and $409,288 through the first six months. He also spent $159,651 between April 18 and June 30, and $481,208 through the first six months.

Of the money he spent, $125,574, or 36 percent, went to Burges and Burges, a Cleveland-based political consulting firm. Most of that money went toward media buys.

Sawyer's campaign has $2,230 on hand, but has outstanding debts of $35,553. Sawyer's campaign owes $8,912 to Burges and Burges, and $14,050 to Contemporary Design Group, a Cleveland company, for printing and mailing.

State Rep. Anthony A. Latell, a Girard Democrat who finished a distant third in his party's primary for the 17th District, spent $152,052 on his campaign, including $89,452 between April 18 and June 30.

He raised $154,171 on his bid, including $40,865 from April 18 to June 30. Of the total amount Latell raised, $107,081 came from loans he gave his campaign.

The 17th District includes portions of Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage and Summit counties.

Strickland has more

U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat, has significantly more money on hand than his Republican challenger, Michael Halleck of Salem, in the race for the 6th District, which includes Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County.

Strickland has $547,703 on hand after spending $277,778 through the first six months of the year compared with $43,130 for Halleck, who has spent $21,404 through the first half of the year.

Also, Halleck accepted an $8,000 contribution from the Columbiana County Republican Party, which is $7,000 above the allowable limit for the party to give his campaign, according to FEC rules. County political parties are permitted to donate only $1,000 every six months to a congressional candidate, FEC rules state.

That means Halleck will be required by the FEC to return $7,000, which represents 11 percent of the $64,534 he has raised for his congressional campaign this year.

skolnick@vindy.com




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