Boccieri, Wilson look ahead

On the side

McKinley dinner: Speaker of the Ohio House William Batchelder will be the guest speaker at the 98th annual Mahoning Valley McKinley Club dinner at the McKinley Memorial Auditorium in Niles.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 18, Presidents’ Day.

The dinner honors William McKinley, the nation’s 25th president, who was born in Niles on Jan. 29, 1843.

The dinner brings together Republicans from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, and usually attracts statewide officeholders and candidates. Several major Republicans, including Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, have previously spoken at the event.

Tickets are $25 each. You can mail checks, payable to McKinley Club in care of the Mahoning County Republican Party at P.O. Box 9012, Youngstown 44513. With the check, provide the names of the people in your party. You can also make reservations, call Jill Downie at the Mahoning Republican office at 330-629-7006 or by email at

Two former congressmen with ties to the Mahoning Valley are considering runs for elected office in 2014 though both are far from making commitments.

Former U.S. Rep. John Boccieri, a Democrat from Alliance who used to live in Mahoning County and represent the area in the state Legislature for eight years, filed a “statement of candidacy” with the Federal Election Commission for the 7th Congressional District seat. That position is currently by U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, a Republican from Lakeville.

But Boccieri, who served in the U.S. House for one term before losing a re-election bid in 2010, said reports from other media outlets read too much into the filing.

“I had money leftover in a campaign account and you have to file in a district [in order] to spend it,” Boccieri said.

He chose the 7th because that’s where he spent some of the money. The biggest expenses were $3,067 for holiday cards — “I’ve always done that” — and $1,500 for a computer program that makes it easier to file campaign finance reports with the FEC, Boccieri said.

Boccieri may run next year against Gibbs or U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth, R-16th, who beat him in the 2010 election.

But Boccieri is far more interested in the 13th District, currently represented by Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Niles.

Boccieri won’t challenge Ryan, but if the latter runs for governor, Boccieri said, “There will be a mad rush for his congressional district and I’ll be one of” those seeking the position.

While Ryan says he’s still considering a gubernatorial run, it’s highly unlikely he’ll get in that race.

“I’ll look at the political landscape and determine if I’ll return to public service,” Boccieri said. “I’d love to return to Washington some day.”

Boccieri said there is “some talk of running for a statewide” office, but he doesn’t sound excited by that possibility.

“I haven’t ruled it out,” he said without much enthusiasm.

Boccieri’s FEC filing led National Republican Congressional Campaign spokeswoman Katie Prill to issue a statement calling him an “opportunistic politician.”

When asked to comment, Ryan Stenger, who works for Gibbs, said, “It’s no wonder most of the American public has such a negative view of politicians when John Boccieri is district shopping based on what’s best for him politically.”

Meanwhile, ex-U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, a Democrat from St. Clairsville, said he recently spoke to Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern about running for state treasurer against GOP incumbent Josh Mandel in 2014.

“There’s been some conversation about it, but it’s way too early to commit,” Wilson said. “We don’t have a candidate for [treasurer]. A few people are talking, but no one has committed.”

Two months ago, Wilson lost his second congressional race in a row to U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th.

Wilson, who served in Congress for four years representing portions of the Valley, spent $581,091 of his own money in the unsuccessful 2012 congressional election.

A day after the defeat, Wilson told me his political career was likely over. But he added, “Never say never, but it doesn’t look like I will make it in” the congressional seat.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.