The Democratic nominees in the 6th and 14th congressional districts are teeing off on the Republican incumbents they’re challenging in the Nov. 4 general election.
And officials with the incumbents’ campaigns are responding with criticism of the Democratic challengers.
Congressional handicapping experts say the 6th and 14th races are the two most competitive in Ohio this year.
Democrat Jennifer Garrison of Marietta, an attorney and former three-term state representative, said Friday about two-term incumbent Bill Johnson, her Republican opponent, “He’s part of the do-nothing Congress and he’s doing nothing. We need people who are willing to work across party lines to get things accomplished.”
She specifically mentioned Johnson, of Marietta, not pushing for a bill to extend unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 52 weeks.
In response, Mark Weaver, Johnson’s campaign spokesman, said: “Bill Johnson supports extending unemployment benefits as long as they can be paid for from off-sets of wasteful government spending and avoid the delays predicted by the state managers of unemployment insurance.”
Weaver pointed to a March 19 letter from the National Association of Workforce Agencies, comprising the directors who administer state unemployment insurance programs, to House Speaker John Boehner.
The organization raised concerns about a Senate bill extending emergency unemployment insurance causing “considerable delays in the implementation of the program and increased administrative issues and costs.”
Garrison also called Johnson “an obstructionist,” who has voted to “shut down government. He refused to increase the debt ceiling putting not just our nation’s economy at risk, but the global economy at risk. You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Is this guy not smart enough to realize what he’s doing or is it all a gimmick; anything to stay in Congress?’”
“Bill Johnson went to Washington to fix the problems there,” Weaver said. “One of his main accomplishments was sponsoring the measure to stop congressional members from being paid if they don’t pass a budget. Jennifer Garrison’s supporters in the Senate went four years without passing a budget yet she has no criticism of them.”
The 6th District includes all of Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County.
In the 14th District, Democrat Michael Wager, an attorney from Moreland Hills, said he would reject “taxpayer-funded perks currently abused by members of Congress,” if he is elected. He is facing freshman U.S. Rep. David Joyce, a Republican from Russell.
Among the perks, he said, are: no pay raises until Congress passes a livable minimum wage, congressional pensions, overseas trips except to military installations, a ban on lobbying after leaving Congress, and requiring legislators to disclose when voting for tax breaks that benefit them, their immediate family or their business interests.
“It’s time to put an end to the self-serving loopholes that have allowed politicians like Congressman David Joyce to live like the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans on taxpayers’ money,” Wager said. “Let’s eliminate excessive and wasteful congressional perks like free foreign travel.”
He also criticized Joyce for collecting a state pension of more than $60,000 annually — Joyce served 24 years as Geauga County prosecutor before being elected to the U.S. House — on top of his $174,000 congressional annual salary and $18,000 in free foreign travel.
In response, Kevin Benacci, Joyce’s campaign manager, said, “This latest press release gimmick was sent to Wager by [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi’s campaign arm and has been copied and pasted by numerous Democrats across the country. Wager is proving he doesn’t bring an original idea to the table and simply wants to go to Washington to push the Obama-Pelosi agenda that brought us Obamacare.”
The 14th District includes 11 northern townships in Trumbull County.