October 30, 2006
Race for 18th district has national implications
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON - Two years ago, no one would have guessed that
then-Rep. Bob Ney, a rising star in Congress, would have any
trouble keeping the 18th Congressional District in Republican
Then came revelations tying him to an influence-peddling scandal,
followed by the Heath Republican’s withdrawal of his re-election
bid and then his guilty pleas in a criminal conspiracy.
As a result, the race to succeed the six-term lawmaker has become
one of the most competitive in the nation and could help determine
which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives.
Zack Space, Dover’s elected law director, initially campaigned
against Ney after winning the Democratic nomination.
After Ney dropped out, Space switched his focus to state Sen. Joy
Padgett, R-Coshocton, who won a special election Sept. 14 to
replace Ney on the ballot.
Defaulted loan, experience, corruption, constituents
Padgett’s declaration of bankruptcy in 2005, arising from the
failure of an office supply company she and her husband owned, and
their default on a $737,000 government loan quickly became an
In an interview for this story, she denied mismanagement and
blamed the business failure on competition from a Wal-Mart store
and the loss of major customers.
“Both my husband and I just believed that it would get better,”
she said. “And it didn’t. It just didn’t.”
Space maintains that his five years as Dover law director prepare
him to serve the largely rural, 16-county district that stretches
from Tuscarawas and Carroll counties southwest to Jackson County.
“I’ve been a very proactive law director,” he said. “It’s given me
a real good glimpse of what small-town government should do for
Padgett, a state senator since 2004 and former state
representative and director of the Ohio Office of Appalachia, said
her experiences taught her how to work with other legislators to
get bills passed and provide service to constituents.
“I really do know how to meet constituent needs, and that is a
primary duty,” said Padgett.
Space, 53, stressed a need for change at a time when Republicans
have been criticized for corruption scandals in Ohio and
“The most stark and obvious problem of this Congress and this
administration is that they have catered to special interests,” he
said. “They’ve placed the interests of the wealthiest and
most-elite Americans above those of working families.”
TAX CUTS and technology
Padgett, 59, acknowledged that a series of tax cuts championed by
President Bush and Republicans in Congress has not helped
residents of the 18th District as much as some others because Ohio
has lost manufacturing jobs.
But she supports the tax cuts and believes she could promote
economic development by pushing for legislation to extend
high-speed Internet and wireless service to rural areas.
“If we are to grow the rural areas of America, we must provide
these basic tools,” she said.
Space says he favors tax cuts that benefit the middle class, as
opposed to the recent tax reductions that he said favor “people
who need help the least.”
Space lists his priorities as pushing for fair trade and promoting
clean coal-burning technology and the production of ethanol in the
He said he would have voted against the North American Free Trade
Agreement and similar trade pacts.
Padgett also favors development of alternative energy, and said
she already has been involved in efforts to bring two ethanol
plants to the district.
She also pledged to work with Appalachian organizations to promote
economic development in poor areas of the district.
IRAQ AND SOCIAL SECURITY
The Iraq war divides the candidates. Padgett said she supports the
“There’s never been a time in which wars are won easily,” she
said. “I look at this as a war on terror.”
Space, a critic of the administration’s prosecution of the war,
called for Bush to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He
advocates a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq based on events
such as “the buildup of the Iraqi security forces and their own
Padgett is more concerned than Space about projections that the
Social Security trust fund will run out of money in 2042,
requiring significant tax increases or benefit cuts.
“It ... must be addressed in the near future,” she said. Padgett,
who opposes cutting Social Security benefits, said she doesn’t
know how to solve the problem but believes it should be addressed.
Space said he believes the concern has been exaggerated by the
Bush administration, which wants to create private personal
accounts within the Social Security system that advocates say
could earn higher returns.
“I’m adamantly opposed to privatization of Social Security,” he
said. “The system is going to be stable and it’s going to work for
decades to come.”
IMMIGRATION and abortion
Both candidates support efforts to prevent illegal immigration,
but Padgett takes a more aggressive line.
“I believe that for far too many years we have been complacent
about illegal immigration,” she said.
The candidates differ on abortion and stem cell research.
Padgett describes herself as a “pro-lifer” who opposes abortion;
Space believes abortion should remain legal.
He nevertheless opposes what critics call “partial birth”
abortion, and he backs requiring parents to be notified and give
their consent before their minor child has an abortion.
strong advocate of federal funding for embryonic stem cell
research, Space said he has a 15-year-old son who suffers from
diabetes. He said the research “offers the only meaningful hope
for a cure.”
Padgett supports Bush’s ban on such stem cell research, except for
studies on existing lines of the cells. She agrees with the
president that the destruction of a human embryo that accompanies
the experiments is wrong.
Both candidates describe themselves as strong defenders of the
Second Amendment and oppose further restrictions on gun ownership.
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, 18TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Term of office: Two years
Education: Law degree, Ohio State University Law School
Occupation: Dover law director, hotel developer
Family: Married, two children
Religion: Greek Orthodox
Political experience: Dover law director
Why are you running? “The first priority … is jobs. We have been
hit especially hard by the dislocation of our economy and we
intend to be a strong advocate for fair trade as opposed to free
Education: B.S. in education, Kent State University
Occupation: State senator
Family: Married, one stepson
Religion: Roman Catholic
Political experience: State senator, 2004-present; unsuccessful
candidate for lieutenant governor in 2006; state representative,
Why are you running? “I really do know how to meet constituent
needs, and that is a primary duty. Also my reputation is one of
being able to work with different coalitions and craft bipartisan
legislation and turn that legislation into law.”