December 17, 2006
Democrats claim Regula vulnerable
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula’s diminished showing in his
Nov. 7 re-election victory has emboldened at least one potential
rival who already is looking ahead to 2008.
In an unusually early declaration, attorney and Army veteran
Michael D. Todd, a Democrat, filed papers with the Federal
Election Commission to run for the 16th Congressional District.
For decades, Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, has won re-election
by wide margins in his Republican-leaning district. But last
month, he won an 18th term with 59 percent of votes cast. That’s
still a comfortable margin but 8 points down from the 67 percent
he drew two years ago.
The weaker showing came against a first-time candidate, the Rev.
Tom Shaw, a Methodist minister from Wooster, who raised no
campaign funds for his bid.
Democratic campaign analysts believe Regula may be vulnerable
because of his long tenure in office, Democratic gains in the
last election and his age.
He has served in Congress since 1973 and is 82. The next session
of Congress will mark his first time as a member of the minority
since Republicans captured control of Congress in 1994.
Others caution against underestimating Regula’s strength two
years from now.
WILL THE ELECTORATE’S MOOD LAST?
Stephen Brooks, acting director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of
Applied Politics at University of Akron, doubts Regula will be
vulnerable in 2008 “unless the mood of the electorate stays the
same” as it is this year, he said.
He views the 2006 election as an unusual one in which Ohio
Republicans were hurt by a number of factors including
corruption scandals in Columbus and Washington, D.C.
Regula has said it’s too early for him to talk about whether
he’ll seek re-election in 2008.
Political analysts say if Regula does not run again, it could
spark a free-for-all among congressional hopefuls from both
Should Regula step aside, it would clear the way for Republican
candidates who are almost certain not to challenge Regula, such
as state Sen. J. Kirk Schuring of Jackson Township and state
Rep. Scott Oelslager of North Canton.
Outgoing Stark County Commissioner Richard Regula, the
congressman’s son, is another possibility.
Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller, who turned in a
surprisingly strong showing against Regula in the Republican
primary, could take another shot even if Regula seeks
Potential Democratic candidates include state Sen.-elect John
Boccieri of New Middletown; Ohio 5th District Court of Appeals
Judge W. Scott Gwin of Canton and Stark County Democratic Party
Chairman Johnnie A. Maier Jr.
Even though Boccieri lives outside the 16th District, he said
that he has been approached about the possibility of running for
that seat in 2008. He said he has not ruled out a bid for
Then there’s Todd, who already is running.
Forcing the talk
Todd, a first-term Medina Township trustee, believes Regula is
But he said his primary motivations for running are to press for
a withdrawal from Iraq and serve as an advocate for middle-class
Todd, 32, filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal
Election Commission last month. He said he plans to engage in
dialogue with voters over the next two years.
“I want this to be a constant conversation,” said Todd, a
Virginia native who secured admission to the U.S. Military
Academy at West Point after enlisting in the Army. “I want to
give them (constituents) two years to digest everything that we
put out there.”
THE STARK COUNTY HOLD
At least one Democratic leader is skeptical of Todd’s bid.
Maier, the Stark County Democratic chairman, said he’s never
been contacted by Todd, though the majority of Democratic voters
in the district live in Stark County.
“I think I would be making sure I contacted the county with the
largest population and most Democrats,” Maier said. “I don’t
know Michael Todd.”
Regula blames his loss of support in the last election on voter
unhappiness with the Iraq war and an anti-Republican wave of
discontent that swept Democrats into control of both the House
“Nobody ever expressed unhappiness with what I’ve done,” Regula
Fellow Republicans agree with Regula’s reasoning. Democrats
think there is a chance that the threat of a tough race could
push Regula into retirement. And even if he runs again, they do
not rule out a Democratic upset of the incumbent.
Sarah Feinberg, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee, said the party believes that a strong
performance from incoming Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland,
Rep.-elect Zack Space of Dover and other Democratic lawmakers
from Ohio will improve Democratic prospects of winning more
races in the Buckeye State in two years.
She said the party is taking a “close look” at Regula’s
“He’s already been around for a long time,” she said, and “2006
was a year of change in Ohio and I expect 2008 to be a year of
Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican
Congressional Committee, argues that Regula’s capture of 59
percent of the vote was an “overwhelming victory” during a
“horrible year” for Republicans.
“You’re going to see a lot of people misread the election
results from this cycle and think they have a shot when they
don’t,” he said.