A Howland pediatrician, who’s never sought political office, plans to run next year as a Republican against five-term incumbent Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Niles.
Marisha Agana, chairwoman of the St. Joseph Health Center’s department of pediatrics, hasn’t filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, but started a three-day visit Tuesday in Washington, D.C., meeting with Republicans to discuss her campaign.
Agana, 51, was born and reared in the Philippines, moving to the United States in 1987 and then to the Mahoning Valley in the early 1990s, said Patricia Brandt, her campaign spokeswoman.
“My message of putting America first resonates with a growing and broad base of support from Republicans and tea party members, independents and Democrats alike who are fed up with the federal spending spree,” Agana said.
Congressional redistricting, which takes effect with the November 2012 election, makes the district held by Ryan, 38, since 2003 more Democratic. Ryan’s district number would go from the 17th to the 13th.
The new district includes portions of Mahoning, Trumbull, Summit, Portage and Stark counties. Ryan’s current district includes portions of all of those counties except Stark.
The Republican-led congressional redistricting is being challenged by Ohio Democrats who say the new district lines are unfair, and are seeking a referendum on the November 2012 ballot. Of the 16 new districts, two are competitive though they lean Republican. Of the remaining 14, 10 heavily lean Republican and four — including the new 13th — heavily lean Democratic.
Because of the referendum movement, the Republican-controlled Legislature moved the U.S. House primary from March 6 to June 12. Primaries for every other position, except president, aren’t being moved from March 6.
Even if new congressional districts are redrawn, the new 13th District would likely remain a Democratic stronghold as it would probably still include large portions of Mahoning and Trumbull, two of the most Democratic counties in the state.
When asked how Agana could beat Ryan, Brandt said, “By believing in her principles and talking about changes needed to bring jobs back to the area.”
Agana criticized Ryan as being “out of touch with Ohio’s values” and called him “a prime example of the problem throughout Congress.”
Wiley Runnestrand, Ryan’s campaign manager, declined to comment on Agana’s candidacy.