By David Skolnick
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, seeking his fifth term in Congress, faces a challenger in the Republican primary for the 6th Congressional District seat while two people square off to determine the Democratic nominee in the May 8 primary.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan has two opponents in the Democratic primary for the 13th Congressional District post with the winner facing Republican Chris DePizzo in the November general election.
Johnson, 63, of Marietta, said the nation, under President Donald Trump, has “made real progress” in “terms of strengthening our economy by reducing Washington red tape on our job creators, providing a tax cut for hardworking families, making our tax code less burdensome and more competitive with the rest of the world, strengthening our military, fighting the opioid epidemic, repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate, and cracking down on illegal immigration. But there is still much to do.”
That includes a continued focus on creating an environment that produces more good-paying jobs, supporting pro-growth economic policies such as the recent tax cut, and a national infrastructure program for roads, bridges, railways, waterways, airports, electric grid, water and sewer systems and broadband internet access.
Challenging Johnson in the GOP primary is Robert Blazek, 58, of Bellaire, a political newcomer and a farmer.
Among his ideas is imposing a 1-percent tax on violent video games and any movies that are rated PG-13 and higher that he says would raise $400 million the federal government would use to fund issues related to mental health.
Blazek accused Johnson of not being “an ardent supporter of” President Donald Trump.
That was something Johnson laughed off as he’s been to the White House during Trump’s tenure about a dozen times and was one of the president’s earliest supporters among elected officials in Ohio.
The 18-county 6th, which includes all of Columbiana County and the southern portion of Mahoning County, is a solid Republican district.
There are two Democrats running in that party’s primary in the 6th. They are Shawna Roberts, 54, of Belmont, a stay-at-home mother, and Werner Lange, 71, of Newton Falls, an adjunct professor of philosophy at Walsh University.
This is Roberts’ first time running for elected office while Lange has unsuccessfully sought various elected positions.
“It’s a very, very red district, and I’m pretty blue,” Roberts said. “This district is extremely [Republican] so it’s not easy to run in it.”
Roberts’ priorities are improving infrastructure, including providing broadband internet access; providing a quality education from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 to career training and college; access to affordable, quality health care; and developing a more diverse, forward-looking economy.
Lange wants to pass policies that provide people with living wages, have a massive public investment in infrastructure, pass laws to protect the environment and public health, restore net neutrality, and reform immigration, campaign finance and criminal justice laws.
In the 13th District’s Democratic primary, Ryan, 44, of Howland, is seeking his ninth two-year congressional term. He’s being challenged by John Stephen Luchansky, 64, of Boardman, and Robert Crow of Youngstown.
Crow, who lost the 2010 Democratic primary to Ryan, couldn’t be reached by The Vindicator to comment and didn’t fill out a candidate questionnaire sent to him by the newspaper.
Ryan said among his top priorities, if re-elected, is to continue to help provide opportunities to create high-quality, good-paying jobs in additive manufacturing and other technologies, “but we need to close the skills gap and ensure that our workforce has the tools and training they need to be able to do the jobs of the future.”
He also wants to make college more affordable, and make the nation’s health and wellness a top priority.
Luchansky, who lost to Ryan in the 2014 and 2016 Democratic primaries, said he supports legislation that cares for the poor, protects the vulnerable and treats all people with dignity. He said he would work overtime to prevent any additional deportations in the congressional district.
The five-county 13th District, which includes most of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, is considered a safe Democratic district.