Traficant being coy about bid for Congress

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This and that from the world of Valley politics.

ONE-TWO PUNCH: Don L. Hanni III is taking on state Rep. Robert F. Hagan on two politi- cal fronts. Hanni, a former 12-year Youngstown Board of Education member, plans to file nominat- ing petitions early next week to run in the Democratic primary in May against Hagan for the Ohio House 60th District seat.

Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat, has already turned in his nominating petitions to seek re-election. Also, Hanni is challenging Hagan for the lat- ter’s position as the Democratic State Central Committeeman for the 33rd District, which includes all of Mahoning and Carroll coun- ties and portions of Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

Hanni, retired from the Ohio Department of Transportation, is the son of the late Don L. Hanni Jr., the former longtime Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman.

Filing deadline: Thursday is the filing dead- line for candidates running in the May 4 primary. For those not registered to vote in the pri- mary, the deadline to do so is April 5.

Ex-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. has repeatedly said — and yelled — at rallies and other public events that he’s running for a congressional seat this year.

But no final decision has been made, said Dennis Malloy, Traficant’s communications director.

Malloy recently told me that Traficant will probably wake up Thursday, the filing deadline to run in the May 4 primary, and make a decision.

Traficant is speaking Saturday in Washington, D.C., at an American Free Press rally.

[Not to fan the flames but the AFP is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. Oops, too late on that fan-the-flames thing.]

The reaction to his speech will help Traficant with his decision on a comeback bid, Malloy said.

When I asked Traficant last week about running for Congress, he refused to answer.

That wasn’t much of a surprise.

Traficant typically doesn’t give specific answers, and I believe Malloy that the ex-congressman won’t have a decision until the filing date.

Even if Traficant sits out the primary, he could still run as an independent in the November general election.

The filing date for independents is May 3, the day before the primary.

The Traficant talk has focused on two congressional districts: the 17th, currently represented by Tim Ryan, a Niles Democrat, who worked for Traficant when the latter was a U.S. House member; and the 6th, currently represented by Charlie Wilson, a Democrat from St. Clairsville.

If Traficant chooses to run — and that’s a big if — the correct move would be to run as an independent.

I don’t believe Traficant could win a Democratic primary against either incumbent.

So far, Wilson doesn’t have a Democratic opponent. If he gets one that person would probably be lightly regarded.

Ryan’s lone Democratic opponent at this point is ex-Girard Councilman Dan Moadus.

While Moadus is confident he’ll beat Ryan, he faces an extremely difficult challenge.

There’s a Republican running in the 17th: M.E. “Bing” Henderson of Tallmadge, who’s never run for elected office before.

Ryan has his critics, but I can’t see him losing his re-election bid to anyone, including Traficant.

Traficant appears to be leaning toward the 12-county 6th District.

The Appalachian 6th District is more conservative than the 17th, and its main voting base comes from Columbiana and Mahoning counties, where Traficant has won in the past.

Of course his victories came before he was a convicted felon.

Campaigning in the 6th would prove to be a challenge to Traficant because he’d need the permission of his probation officer to campaign in the district’s lower 10 counties.

The 6th District has attracted a lot of interest from Republicans [at least four are running in that party’s primary] as well as candidates from the Libertarian and Constitution parties.

If Traficant is the only independent candidate there would be five names on the 6th Congressional District ballot.

One could argue that in such a crowded field, Traficant stands a better chance of pulling an upset victory.

You could also make an argument that Traficant appeals to the same people who’d vote for third-party candidates, clearing the field for Wilson to be re-elected.

It’s fun and interesting to speculate, particularly about someone as colorful/unique/bizarre as Traficant.

But, at least to me, Traficant has as good a chance of winning a congressional election this year as he does of opening an Indian gambling casino in the Mahoning Valley.

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