This is the second straight year that the Mahoning Valley's congressman finished last.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
WASHINGTON -- No committee assignments. No clout. No one with less power in Congress.
That is the assessment of U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. by YourCongress.com, a Web site that covers Capitol Hill.
Traficant, a Poland Democrat, finished last not only among members of the U.S. House, but also behind the body's five delegates, who represent U.S. territories, commonwealth and federal districts, and cannot vote on the House floor.
This is the second straight year Traficant has finished last in the Web site's poll, which ranks members of Congress in terms of power. The ranking relies on congressional members' committee assignments and leadership positions. Ten current and former senior congressional staff members ranked committees by the power they have and then gave numerical values to leadership positions on those committees and in the House.
Traficant is the only rank-and-file member of Congress without a committee assignment.
Democrats refused to give him one after he crossed party lines in January 2001 to vote for a Republican for speaker of the House. Republicans cannot legally give Traficant a committee assignment unless he leaves the Democratic Party. Traficant is planning to do just that if re-elected. He is running for his seat as an independent, but to date, remains a Democrat.
The YourCongress.com power ranking in recent years has caught the attention of members of Congress, who like to see where they place among their contemporaries. For example, U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, a St. Clairsville Republican, sent out a press release touting his 11th-place ranking.
The Web site's operators are longtime fans of Traficant and have a section of the site devoted to his one-minute speeches on the House floor.
U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Madison Republican whose district will include northern Trumbull County beginning next year, placed 63rd among the 435 members of Congress.
U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Lorain Democrat whose district includes western Trumbull County through the end of this year, finished in 101st place, up 15 positions from last year.
U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat running to represent a district that will include Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County beginning next year, and U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat who lost his party's primary race last month for a seat that will include portions of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, are low on the power ranking list. The two finished in a tie for 312th place. But that was an improvement from their tie for 382nd place last year.
U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, a Bradford Woods Republican who represents Lawrence County, finished in 231st place, down 52 positions from last year's poll.
U.S. Rep. Phil English, an Erie Republican who represents Mercer County, finished in 276th place, up eight positions from last year's poll.