Rulli defeats Boccieri to win 33rd Ohio Senate
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By GRAIG GRAZIOSI
In a close contest, Michael Rulli won the race for the 33rd Ohio Senate District with a total 65,531 votes between Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
His opponent, state Rep. John Boccieri of Poland, D-59th, received 59,292 votes.
The seats for two state representative districts and one state senate district were on the ballot for Valley voters during this year’s midterm elections.
Don Manning narrowly won the race for the 59th Ohio House District with 50.39 percent of the total over his opponent, Eric Ungaro.
Michele Lepore-Hagan won the race for the 58th Ohio House District with 70.13 percent of the total vote. over her opponent, David Simons.
Rulli, a political newcomer, is the director of operations for Rulli Brothers Markets and ran as a Republican.
“Huge accolades to Mr. Boccieri. He’s a wonderful, wonderful man, he’s done great things for our country and I wish him the absolute best,” Rulli said.
He thanked his wife, Kelly, his family and said he planned on reaching out to outgoing state. Sen Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown of Youngstown and the county commissioners within the district to gain a better understanding of their priorities.
“I want to be a bridge between this district and between Columbus. I won’t let the voters down,” he said.
Boccieri attributed his loss to an inability to carry Columbiana County.
“We just couldn’t make up the deficit in Columbiana County where they ran up the score,” Boccieri said.
Boccieri also criticized the state Republican party for its attack ads.
“At the end of the day, the barrage of negative ads was too insurmountable to overcome from the Columbus machine,” he said.
Boccieri said he plans on continuing his military career and spending more time with his children.
Manning said would try to lower taxes for everyone and to tackle the opioid epidemic and find solutions. He also hopes to bring “good paying jobs” back to the region.
“It was a tough battle and I think the people of the 59th District decided it was time to try something different,” he said. “I believe with me working with my friend Mike Rulli in the state legislature we should be able to do some very good things for the Valley.”
Ungaro said he was proud of running a clean race and doing so with the people he loved. “I called Mr. Manning and congratulated him, but it’s still very close so I’d like to let it ride out before I officially concede,” Ungaro said. “But win or lose, I’ll call him and even offer my services.”
Lepore-Hagan, the Democratic incumbent, said she would continue to oppose House Bill 70 — the “Youngstown Plan” for city schools — and work to ban charter schools across the state as well as support public universities, restore the state’s local government fund and fight for women’s health care rights.
“It was an exciting campaign. A lot of people were engaged and excited. It’s how it should always be as part of a healthy Democratic process,” she said.
Lepore-Hagan has served as the representative for the 58th District since 2015.
Simon, a political newcomer, could not be reached for comment.