Don’t look now, but the worst rug ever is back. After weeks of appeals, battles with multiple election boards, and even a little help from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Jim Traficant appears ready to appear on the November ballot for his old seat, running as an independent.
The Youngstown Democrat was expelled from Congress in 2002 and convicted of racketeering, bribery and tax evasion. He served 7 years in prison and was released last year. He began talking about running for his old seat in the 17th district, which he had held for 17 years, almost immediately after getting out of the pokey.
The district is currently represented by Tim Ryan (D) who usually wins reelection with over 75% of the vote. However, Traficant is sure to pull some votes away from him, splitting the Democrat vote. These are the same people who kept electing him for so long, after all. It isn’t like his corruption was unknown before his conviction, and he was repeatedly reelected anyway.
Now, in a normal year, you wouldn’t think that he would pull enough votes from Ryan to propel Republican Jim Graham to victory. But the GOP leads the Gallup Generic Congressional ballot by 10 points, 5 points higher than 1994. In a wave election like this year, anything could happen. This may now be another Ohio race to watch on election night. Stay tuned…
Linda Kovachik, a Traficant committee member, said “This is ridiculous to put anyone through this.”