Democratic hopefuls eye Voinovich's seat
Bob Hagan said he would need to raise about $2 million by the end of this year to mount a challenge.
By MICHELE C. HLADIK
COLUMBUS -- It's nearly two years before the next U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs and already Democratic hopefuls, like Youngstown's Bob Hagan, are contemplating what it will take to make it to Washington, D.C.
Hagan recently said both he and his brother, Tim, are considering running for the Senate seat held by Republican Sen. George Voinovich, a former Ohio governor and mayor of Cleveland.
Bob Hagan said he and his brother have similar ideas and views on issues, and he isn't sure who will make the final decision to run. Tim Hagan, also a Democrat, lost his bid to unseat incumbent Gov. Bob Taft in November.
Bob Hagan said he expects that decision to come before the end of the year.
"It's not about being in the Senate," Hagan said. "It's about fighting for the issues that are important to the state."
But before making the official decision to run for the seat, Hagan said he will have to determine if he can garner enough support, both verbally and financially. The hunt for those answers is expected to begin in earnest in March.
Hagan believes that with the right support, he could have what it takes to get the Senate seat.
"There's certainly no reason to rule me out," he said. "I'm certainly qualified."
Hagan, 53, is serving his final term in the Ohio Senate. He has served six years in the Senate and 10 years in the Ohio House of Representatives. He has four years left on this term.
Hagan says winning the U.S. Senate election would take more than experience and drive. He said he only expects to run in the election if he can anticipate getting $2 million in campaign contributions by December.
"It's all about money," he said. "[The public] sees what kind of man you are in 30-second increments."
Hagan said he sees Voinovich as vulnerable.
"He's been a do-nothing senator," he stated. "Most people can't even name one thing he's done."
Jason Mauk, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said he isn't sure if Voinovich will choose to seek re-election, but he believes if he chooses to run, he'll be ready and qualified.
"Sen. Voinovich has done a remarkable job on Capitol Hill," Mauk said. "I can point to a dozen major accomplishments he's achieved. His agenda isn't finished."
Mauk said it has been difficult for any Republican to get anything accomplished under the formerly Democrat-controlled Senate. He added that Ohio unions and workers have supported Voinovich.
"We have every confidence that support will continue," Mauk said.
Denny White, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said there is a list of Democrats considering a run for the Senate seat in 2004, including state Sen. Eric Fingerhut of Cleveland and Jerry Springer, a former Cincinnati mayor and now a talk show host.
"There's quite a list," White said. "I think anyone can challenge Voinovich."
White said it is too early to tell who would have the best chance of defeating the Republicans for the seat, but admits Hagan has a good chance.