Congressional races heat up

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Media bias?: Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat, has received a lot of bad press. We can debate whether he deserves it or not another day. I recently asked Mandel if there was a media bias against him. After a long pause to what he called a “loaded question,” his response was: “I’ve met a lot of journalists throughout the state of Ohio. While some are more fair than others, everyone I’ve come across is a good person trying to do the best they can at their job.” So why does he get negative press? Mandel shrugged his shoulders to indicate he doesn’t know. Reappointment: Gov. John Kasich reappointed Robert J. Wasko, a member of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, to a five-year term on the state’s Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.

The elections for the 13th (formerly the 17th) and 14th Congressional Districts positions were supposed to fly under the radar this year.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, is running against political newcomer Marisha Agana, a Republican from Howland, in the new 13th District.

The district number was changed as well as its borders — though most of the 17th, including large portions of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, will remain in the new 13th — through redistricting.

Ryan, a five-term incumbent, has considerably more name recognition and money than Agana’s campaign in a district that strongly leans Democratic.

In the 14th District, which includes northern Trumbull County, nine-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Republican from Bainbridge, was expected to easily be re-elected in November.

Dale Virgil Blanchard of Solon, the Democratic candidate in the 14th, runs and loses year after year. There are also Libertarian and Green parties candidates in the race.

LaTourette’s decision to quit the race last week shakes things up in the 14th.

The Republican chairmen/women of the seven counties in the 14th and the secretary of the seven counties’ GOP central committees will meet at 2 p.m. today in Willoughby Hills to select a replacement for LaTourette.

Blanchard isn’t withdrawing, meaning whoever is selected by the Republicans today will be the favorite to win the 14th, one of the few districts in Ohio that doesn’t lean strongly Democratic or Republican.

In the new 13th, Agana is also a long-shot. But she and Larry Nichols, her campaign manager and a colorful guy, are making things interesting.

Agana received national media attention with a Twitter message comparing President Barack Obama to Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong.

Nichols said he was “excited she screwed up” with her Tweet “because it’s bringing out” abortion as an issue in the campaign.

Agana was “trying to say if you believe in abortion, you’re in a group of people who believe in genocide,” Nichols said.

But there was no indication until almost 24 hours later that Agana’s Obama tweet was about abortion.

In the 6th Congressional District race, considered one of the most competitive in the state, there was a minor but amusing issue. (The district includes all of Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County.)

The campaign of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican from Marietta, sent an email Wednesday about the “removal” of a welcoming statement on the website of opponent Charlie Wilson, a Democrat from St. Clairsville. Johnson beat Wilson in 2010.

The Wilson statement reads, in part, “Now, I ask you to join me in one more fight.”

Johnson’s campaign interpreted that as Wilson’s “clear implication” that this was his last run for office, and that the statement was removed because he wants to seek “office again and again.”

According to screen- shots provided by Johnson’s campaign, the statement was removed between Saturday and Sunday, and returned Wednesday, the same day the Johnson campaign sent the email.

Wilson’s campaign insists that nothing was done to the website and that Johnson and his campaign “must be nervous because they are punching at shadows.”

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