Boccieri may seek return to D.C. but not now

On the side

Presidential overreach: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to subpoena Associated Press and Fox News reporters’ telephone records is “very disappointing to me.”

The contention from the administration is the information is needed in connection with an investigation into a national security leak. Brown called it “an example of overreach” by President Barack Obama, also a Democrat.

Brown made the comments in response to questions from me and Louie Free on Vindy Radio.

“There’s disagreement” between the administration and some members of Congress over the issue, Brown said.

“I’m hopeful they’re listening” to those who disagree with the DOJ decision, he said.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which recruits and raises money for political party members running for U.S. House seats, doesn’t conduct polls for fun.

It’s serious business.

The DCCC paid for a telephone poll last week, first reported by The Plain Dealer, of voters in the 16th Congressional District, west of the Mahoning Valley.

Those called were asked who they would support next year in a potential race between U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, the Republican incumbent, and ex-U.S. Rep. John Boccieri, a Democrat.

Boccieri said he didn’t know about the poll before it was conducted.

Boccieri said he speaks regularly with his former Democratic congressional colleagues — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, told me the two talk almost weekly — and would “love to return to Washington” in the “future.”

But Boccieri said he is “not looking to run” next year.

Boccieri, who lives in Alliance but plans to move in a couple of months to Poland, is commander of the 773rd Airlift Squadron at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna and an Air Force Reserve lieutenant colonel.

He said his unit is being deployed for several months later this year or next year.

Boccieri said he can’t see how a congressional run is possible with his military commitment.

Renacci beat Boccieri, the sitting incumbent, in the 2010 congressional race by 11 percentage points in what was an awful year for Democrats in Ohio and nationwide. Also, Boccieri’s vote for Obamacare didn’t help.

Republicans redistricted the 16th last year to help Renacci, who beat Betty Sutton, a Democrat, in 2012 by about 4 percentage points in a race between two incumbents.

So why did the DCCC conduct a poll of a potential race between Boccieri and Renacci?

One reason is the results, which haven’t been shared with the media, may show Boccieri could win and perhaps persuade him to run.

Another is the close 2012 race indicates Renacci could be beat in what’s been a longtime Republican area if Democrats can find the right candidate.

Though Boccieri served only one term in Congress, he won three Ohio House races and was elected to the state Senate before he won the 2008 congressional race. He won five years ago despite not living in the 16th until after the primary and never representing most of that district in the state Legislature.

For years, Republicans have been concerned about Boccieri, who served four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Air Force Reserve pilot.

During last year’s redistricting, Republicans removed Alliance, where Boccieri resides, and moved it into Ryan’s district. Not living in a congressional district didn’t stop Boccieri from running in 2008. But this was a calculated and politically smart move by Republicans.

The National Republican Congressional Committee issued statements about the DCCC poll and then about Boccieri deciding not to run for Congress next year.

Imagine what Republicans would do if Boccieri decides to run for Congress again.

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