Three other Republicans are in the race.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
Ohio House Speaker Pro Tempore Charles Blasdel has filed documents with the Federal Election Commission to run next year as a Republican candidate for the 6th Congressional District.
His statement of organization, filed Wednesday with the FEC, lists David Johnson, a GOP state central committeeman and one of the state's most prominent Republicans, as the chairman and treasurer of Blasdel's congressional committee.
Blasdel, R-1st, of East Liverpool, has strongly considered a run for the congressional seat for several months. His interest significantly increased when U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lisbon, announced in May that he wouldn't run for re-election to the seat in 2006 and instead seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
"I've made up my mind and will be making an announcement soon," Blasdel said.
However, Blasdel's actions belie his coyness.
Making the rounds
Blasdel is taking the needed steps to run for the post, including establishing a congressional campaign committee, having Johnson run it and meeting with Republican leaders in the district and on the federal level.
"We're putting a campaign finance committee together, and we're preparing to put together a strong campaign," Johnson said.
Blasdel met with the Republican chairs of the 12 counties in the 6th District, and their reaction to his candidacy was "very favorable," Johnson said.
Also, Blasdel has met with national Republican leaders in Washington, D.C., three times, Johnson said. Among the Republicans to meet with Blasdel were Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., chairman of the Republican National Congressional Committee, Johnson said.
"He's been wooed by the RNCC and the Ohio [Republican congressional] delegation for quite some time to run," Johnson said. "Chuck will get substantial support from Washington."
Blasdel is serving his third term in the Ohio House, and is No. 2 in the legislative body's leadership as president pro tempore. Blasdel, an investment adviser, could run for re-election to his House seat next year. Because of the state's term limits law, he couldn't seek the spot in the 2008 election. His House district takes in all of Columbiana County.
Although there are 12 counties in the congressional district, the upper four -- Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont -- make up about 70 percent of its population.
The other candidates
Other Republicans who have announced their candidacy for the congressional seat in the May 2006 primary are Noble County Commissioner Danny Harmon; Richard Holt of Lawrence County, who lost the 89th Ohio House District general election by a 2-to-1 margin against a one-term incumbent; and Tim Ginter, an East Liverpool pastor and registered Democrat.
On the Democratic side, state Sen. Charles A. Wilson Jr. of St. Clairsville and Diane DiCarlo Murphy of Beaver Township, who lost the 2004 Democratic primary to Strickland, are running for the seat. During Wilson's four terms in the Ohio House and this term in the state Senate, Wilson has served about 50 percent of the congressional district's constituents.
Other Democrats looking to run for the congressional seat include former Mahoning County Commissioner Ed Reese of Boardman and state Rep. John Boccieri of New Middletown.
The NRCC and the Democratic National Congressional Committee officials say Ohio's 6th District is one of the nation's most competitive U.S. House races in the country with Strickland out of the picture.
"This is our No. 1 targeted open seat in the country," said Ed Patru, NRCC spokesman. "We're absolutely going after that race."
While the NRCC is neutral during primaries, Patru praised Blasdel.
"Chuck's impressive, and he's turned a lot of heads," he said. "There's no shortage of people in Washington who think he can win."