Three candidates are running for the 17th Congressional District seat. James A. Traficant Jr., an independent candidate, did not respond to a questionnaire mailed by The Vindicator to his home. This listing is based on responses to those questionnaires. An (*) denotes the incumbent.
TIM RYAN (D)*
Home: 1504 Taft Ave., Niles.
Education: A law degree from Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H.; a bachelor’s degree in political science from Bowling Green State University; a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Warren.
Priority: To promote economic development and job growth.
JIM GRAHAM (R)
Home: 248 Wae Trail, Cortland.
Education: A doctorate of pharmacy and a bachelor of science degree from Ohio Northern University; a Warren Western Reserve High School graduate.
Employment: Corporate manager of Clinical Pharmacy Services for Humility of Mary Health Partners.
Family: Wife, Claudia; two sons.
Priority: Enhance the environment for business growth and job creation; start paying off the debt, rewrite the health-care bill, and seal the borders.
The $800-billion-plus federal stimulus package was too small, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said.
It should have been twice the amount to drive down unemployment, get people back to work, and grow the economy, said Ryan, of Niles, D-17th.
“To say the stimulus didn’t work goes against every economic indicator available,” he said. “Things have certainly gotten a lot better, but unemployment hasn’t gone down enough and [Democrats] lost the message” on the stimulus bill being a good thing for the country.
The stimulus money helped “stabilize” the economy of the Mahoning Valley and other areas, Ryan said.
“I don’t think the stimulus was big enough,” he said.
Ryan is seeking his fifth two-year term as representative of the 17th Congressional District that includes portions of Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage and Summit counties.
He is being challenged by Republican Jim Graham of Cortland, manager of clinical pharmacy services for Humility of Mary Health Partners, and ex-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. of Poland, running as an independent.
Graham criticized the $800-billion-plus federal stimulus package, saying it provided some benefit but was too expensive, and the promises of low unemployment didn’t materialize.
Though many Democrats back away from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Ryan said the two “share values,” and he praises her as a “very pragmatic politician” who’s “taken on the left wing of the party.”
Graham said he is “disgusted and angry about the lack of representation afforded to us by [Ryan], and his strict adherence to every Pelosi order on how to vote.”
For those looking for interesting and compelling political theater, this race should have fit the bill.
But it’s been relatively quiet.
Traficant, who used to employ Ryan during his time as a congressman, attracted a lot of attention in late August when his campaign successfully got him on the ballot after it initially appeared as though he wouldn’t have enough signatures to be an eligible candidate.
Except for the past week or so, Traficant has made only a handful of campaign appearances. And recently he’s been talking only about bringing an Indian gambling casino to North Jackson — something that isn’t permitted under state or federal law.
Also, Traficant has failed to raise the $5,000 minimum needed to file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission.
In comparison, Graham raised $49,928.27 and spent $38,941.53 on his campaign as of Sept. 30.
Ryan raised and spent more than $1 million on his campaign. Last month, Ryan transferred $50,000 from his campaign to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to provide money for fellow Democrats running in this election.
Ryan’s campaign had $272,306.12 as of Sept. 30. Ryan had carried over money from previous campaigns.
Ryan doesn’t plan to spend money on airing television commercials.
Graham plans some TV advertising, but it will be minimal.
“It’s horribly expensive,” he said.
Most national political handicappers have this race as “likely Democrat” or “safe Democrat,” even in a year in which several Democrats are fighting for their political lives.
If Democrats lose control of the House, Ryan said he’ll maintain his position on the powerful appropriations committee.
“Even a minority member on appropriations has a lot of influence,” he said.
If elected, Graham said he would support a 20-percent cut from every federal agency except the Defense Department and would start paying off the national debt. That wold mean pay freezes and/or layoffs for federal employees, Graham said.
“We have a huge deficit,” and the only way to cut it is to spend less and cut more, he said.
Graham also supports reducing regulations and taxes to allow small businesses to grow.