After years of being Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan's chief spokesman and close adviser, Pat Lowry of Youngstown may be ready to test the political waters himself. There's talk that Lowry, a former John F. Kennedy High School teacher who got to know student Ryan, is thinking of seeking the appointment to the 33rd District Senate seat being vacated by Democrat John Boccieri. Boccieri, formerly of New Middletown, is on his way to Congress.
Should Lowry throw his hat in the ring, he will undoubtedly have the full support of the very popular Congressman Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and could expect a nod from Boccieri. After all, Ryan, who has established himself as a rising star in the House of Representatives, campaigned hard for Boccieri in the 14th Congressional District.
Lowry, who ran twice unsuccessfully for Youngtown City Council president, has about a week to submit his résumé to the Mahoning County Democratic Party. There are other potential candidates, including former Mahoning County Commissioner David Engler and Boardman Township Trustee Robyn Gallitto. The 33rd District encompasses several counties, but Mahoning is the largest.
Each county Democratic Party has the option of submitting a list of names to Senate Democratic Minority Leader Capri Cafaro of Liberty Township. Cafaro and her leadership team will review the names and then make a recommendation to the Democratic caucus.
With Lowry in the mix, Congressman Ryan's presence would loom large. He is being touted by state Democrats as a possible challenger to Republican U.S. Sen. George V. Voinvoich in 2010. Ryan also has established a close relationship with Gov. Ted Strickland.
With electability being a major consideration for the caucus, Lowry's past political record will undoubtedly be an issue. However, Ryan's political coattails would have to be considered. In addition, the congressman's agenda for the Mahoning Valley is one that Lowry has been involved in developing and is working on.
Lowry's bid would force local and state Democats to face an issue that so far has not been on the radar screen: The advantage of having a rising-star congressman with a professional and personal relationship with a Democratic state senator.
RYAN PROVIDES INSIGHT INTO THE AUTO INDUSTRY BAILOUT DEBATE: On Saturday morning, the congressman was a guest on "The Valley's Talkin,'" a one-hour talk show on WGFT-AM 1330 hosted by Dr. William C. Binning and this writer. The congressman's explanation of what occurred this week in Washington and what can be expected in a couple of weeks was revealing and insightful.
The show will be re-broadcast on Sunday (Nov. 23) from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and an audiotape version will be available on Vindy.com next week.