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A challenger emerging in 6th District

Published: Fri, May 17, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

On the side

Local challenge? John Kasich may have a challenger from the Mahoning Valley in the 2014 Republican primary for governor or maybe it will be Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel or perhaps it won’t be either.

Aaron McCord of Liberty, who describes himself as an “openly gay African-Irish-American Republican,” who is “well-connected in the Mahoning Valley and the country,” told me he plans to run for governor next year.

McCord contends his “family is very wealthy and powerful.” When I asked him to explain, he said they own 120 acres of real estate with about 100 acres unused in LaGrange, Ga., and his family business is to buy and sell scrap metal.

In February, he returned to the Valley, where he was born and raised, after spending nearly a decade in Georgia. .

McCord, who’s never run for political office, said he figured running for governor was a good place to start. But when we talked about other offices up for election next year, McCord expressed interest in state treasurer and the U.S. House of Representatives.

State Sen. Lou Gentile has quickly emerged as the Democratic Party’s leading candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat.

The election isn’t until next year, but Democrats are focused on the 18-county district — which includes all of Columbiana County and the southern portion of Mahoning County — and are urging Gentile of Steubenville, who’s serving his first term in the state Senate, to challenge two-term U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican from Marietta.

“A lot of people have been coming to me in the district asking me to seriously consider Congress,” Gentile said. “Some are constituents and others hold key political roles or are financial supporters. I’m flattered and honored to be asked.”

Gentile isn’t ready to make a decision saying his focus right now is on the state’s biennium budget, which must be approved by the state Legislature by June 30.

He doesn’t have a timetable for making a decision on a congressional run, but Gentile acknowledges that “it’s something I’ve got to consider. My main interest is to serve eastern and southeastern Ohio.”

Gentile got his start in politics in early 2002 driving then-U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, around his new 6th Congressional District, particularly Jefferson and Belmont counties. I spent a day with Strickland and Gentile during that campaign, and the latter seemed to know everyone we met in those two counties.

Gentile also drove Strickland around the state when Strickland successfully ran for governor in 2006.

Gentile spent about three years as assistant director of the governor’s office of Appalachia before being elected to an Ohio House seat in 2010. When the 30th Senate District seat opened in late 2011 after Jason Wilson, a fellow Democrat, resigned, Senate Democrats selected Gentile to fill the vacancy.

Gentile’s elected experience is limited, but before Johnson beat then-incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, a Democrat who recently passed away, in 2010, the Republican had never run for elected office. Johnson also beat Wilson last year in a rematch. Because of redistricting the 6th leans Republican. It leaned Democratic before last year’s election.

Gentile was the Republican’s No. 1 target last year in the state Senate. The Republican Senate Campaign Committee and the Ohio Republican State Central and Executive Committee contributed about $1 million to the campaign of Republican Shane Thompson of St. Clairsville to beat Gentile. Gentile raised about $800,000, and won the race by 4.8 percentage points.

In the 10 counties that make up the 30th District, Gentile won five of them. In comparison, President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, both Democrats, won one and three, respectively, of the 30th’s 10 counties. Unlike Gentile, Obama and Brown lost in the 30th Senate District, which runs along the eastern and southeastern part of the state and is a conservative-leaning area.

All or portions of nine of that Senate district’s 10 counties are in the 18-county 6th Congressional District. If Gentile decides to run for Congress next year — and he can seek the position without giving up his state seat — he will be a formidable foe for Johnson.


1Chester05(7 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Not really anyone else in that district that could even come close.

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2jackiecanfield(1 comment)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Bring it on...they wasted money trying to beat Bill Johnson last time, 2014 won't be any different, especially to support a kid who has had zero experience in anything relating to the real world. This headline should say "Strickland's Driver seeks Congress Run"...that's about the extent of his resume.

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3300(573 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, starting out at the bottom and working his way up...what a terrible political narrative for someone running in a blue-collar district!

I have no idea this guy's attributes, but considering Johnson's career in the chair force, then using his connections to get porkbarrel contracts for his private contractor, I'd say it's been awhile since any "real world" experience has been present in the 6th district.

If I were Johnson I'd be wary of anyone who actually has ties to the district and hasn't alienated others like Wilson did. But let's be really honest here, the only reason Johnson was elected was because the population of the 6th district really hates black people. and that was their only way to show their displeasure. That's the only reason, if Hillary had won, Wilson would've been reelected in 2010.

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4RoyH(38 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

The 6th District loved black people in 2006 and 2008 and prior when Wilson and other democrats were elected though, right? Must be by the logic of 300.

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5300(573 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

You're right, RoyH, because Obama was in office back in 2006 and 2008. McCain beat Obama in the 6th district, and the Republican going against Wilson didn't even campaign. Thus, once Obama got elected, there were many Democrats who couldn't handle the idea of having a black guy in office. If I have to explain all of this to you, it's because you choose not be knowledgeable.

Did you not pay any attention in the past? I'd suggest you start writing things down if you're incapable of remembering things chronologically.

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6RoyH(38 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

Obama and Wilson were both elected in 2008 and were on the same ballot. Pretty sure that is factually correct.

So you must be saying that from 2008 to 2010 that a majority of people in ohio 6th decided they didnt like black people and took it out on Wilson, thus costing him reelection, and I would assume, correct me if I am wrong, also cost him in 2012?

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