Rulli, Kripchak face off in 6th Congressional District special election

Editors note: This article has been edited to correct that Kripchak was a research scientist and not a research assistant when he worked for the Air Force.

Candidates for 6th District Ohio, U.S. House of Representatives


Age: 55

Occupation: State senator and director of operations for Rulli Brothers Markets

Previous elected experience: Serving his second four-year term in the Ohio Senate, spent eight years on the Leetonia school board

Goals: Comprehensive immigration reform, fostering robust job growth and addressing inflation and ensuring economic stability


Age: 42

Occupation: Prep cook and food runner at Homestead Kitchen & Cocktails

Previous elected experience: None

Goals: Create high-paying, high-skilled jobs in the district, rejuvenate the nation’s public education system and fix the failures of the federal farm bill

Republican Michael Rulli and Democrat Michael L. Kripchak face each other in a June 11 special election to fill the 6th Congressional District seat that has sat empty for the past five months.

The winner will succeed Republican Bill Johnson, who resigned Jan. 21 after 13 years representing the district to become Youngstown State University president, and serve the remainder of that term.

Rulli of Salem, and Kripchak of Youngstown, will meet again in the Nov. 5 general election for a full two-year term that starts in January 2025.

Rulli, director of operations for his family-owned Rulli Brothers Markets, was elected to the state Senate in November 2018 and reelected four years later.

Rulli said his legislative experience makes him the best candidate.

“Getting bills passed in the Legislature is difficult, and you need to work hard,” he said. “My opponent is completely clueless on that entire realm of policy.”

Kripchak, who works at a local restaurant, is an Air Force Academy graduate who spent three years as an acquisitions officer and research scientist with the Air Force.

“I’m the one with actual federal experience,” he said. “Rulli’s main policies are guns, oil, Trump.”

The district has an 18% advantage to Republicans based on voting trends in partisan statewide elections over the past decade and is considered safe for the GOP.

The 6th Congressional District includes all of Mahoning, Columbiana, Carroll, Jefferson, Belmont, Harrison, Monroe, Noble and Washington counties and portions of Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

Mahoning is by far the most-populous county in the district.

Kripchak said he’s “going to be a blue congressman in a supposedly red district.”

Because of that — and the slim four-vote majority Republicans currently have — Kripchak said he’ll be able to leverage an upset victory into a major advantage for the district, including the ability to use his vote to gain federal dollars for the region.

Rulli said his record in the state Senate shows he knows how to work in a bipartisan way as the bills he has sponsored in the legislative body have had unanimous or near unanimous support.

“Bipartisan isn’t the worst word in the world,” he said. “Extremes on the right or left get nothing done.”

While Republicans enjoy a 26-7 advantage over Democrats in the state Senate, Rulli said he works closely with Democrats to co-sponsor bills and add amendments to garner their support.

“I don’t know if Michael (Kripchak) is capable of that,” Rulli said. “He has no experience in legislating whatsoever.”

But Kripchak dismisses Rulli’s accomplishments in the state Senate because he has the luxury of legislating with a supermajority of Republicans.

“That won’t get you ready for federal politics,” he said.


Rulli is a staunch supporter of fracking for natural gas and oil, particularly in his district, to help make the nation energy independent.

“Natural gas is the only path to secure the (energy) grid right now,” he said.

That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be more research into green energy, such as wind, solar and water, but Rulli said, “Right now, people need to have the lights on, and you have to keep the grid operating. The reality is natural gas is the only thing that will serve the grid.”

Kripchak said fracking in the district has been discussed for several years with hundreds of thousands of jobs promised, and little has materialized.

“He keeps talking about lowering energy prices,” Kripchak said. “What’s happened to natural gas prices? They’ve gone up. Why? Because they’re controlled by commodity markets. These are controlled by international forces.”

He added: “The only way his plan can work is if we cut ourselves off from the international oil and gas markets, which would cause our prices to skyrocket.”

Rulli said he is fully committed to comprehensive immigration reform.

Rulli said he doesn’t have “the answer” to reform, but will work with other members of Congress, if elected, to come up with a solution.

“It has to be bipartisan,” he said.

Rulli added: “No one wants to see an open border with problems that arise from that with fentanyl and trafficking. In America, the political strife is so dramatic that everyone is afraid if you start the negotiations you’re going to give the other side a win.”

Work visas are needed as well as border security enhancements, Rulli said.

Kripchak said a bipartisan Senate border security bill is the answer. The problem is Republicans don’t support it, in part, because Donald Trump, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, opposes it.

“There’s no such thing as closing the border,” Kripchak said. “Where’s the door? What happened with Trump’s wall after part of it went up? In a month it started falling down; immediately there were videos of people scaling it.”

Both candidates say inflation needs to be addressed, but have different thoughts on the topic.

Rulli said the federal government needs to quit spending so much money, which has raised the deficit to more than $34 trillion.

“Of course I want to bring money back to Ohio 6th, but we need to slow down the spending,” he said. “That will reduce costs. Inflation has risen during the past two administrations because they printed money. It will catch up with you.”

Kripchak said inflation is high largely because of increased corporate profits.

“Over half of inflation is simply because we don’t have a free market economy anymore,” he said. “We need to start trust-busting these monopolies and duopolies.”

Another part of rising inflation is because of increased energy prices caused by “conflicts around the world,” Kripchak said.

That’s why the United States needs to take action in Ukraine and the Middle East, he said.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.


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