Massillon Independent

October 15, 2005

Regula to seek 18th term on Congress

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON – Rep. Ralph Regula, one of the longest serving and most powerful members of Congress, plans to seek an 18th term next year, he said Friday.

“That’s my present plan,” Regula, R-Navarre, said after returning from Phoenix, Ariz., where he collected a Policy Leader of the Year award from the National Association of State Boards of Education. “You know, I have great health and I have a great position on appropriations and I can do a lot of good things, not only for the 16th District but for all of Ohio.”

First elected in 1972, Regula has worked his way up to one of the top positions in the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which along with its Senate counterpart determines how more than $800 billion in federal funds are spent each year.

Should he win re-election, Regula, 80, likely would have to step down as chairman of a key appropriations subcommittee that divvies up federal spending on health care, education and job training. Regula has held that chairmanship since 2001, and GOP rules limit chairmen to three terms.

But he noted he could still keep the chairmanship in the event the committee were reconfigured – for example, if science spending were added to its purview or the committee were changed in some other way.

“If not, then there will be the opportunity to chair some other major subcommittee, because I have the seniority,” he said.

Regula also continues to serve as vice chairman of the appropriations committee after losing a contest earlier this year to become full chairman. Republican leaders chose Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., over Regula and another contender.

With the general election more than a year away, Regula appears to be in good shape financially for the race. In his latest report to the Federal Election Commission, he reported more than $150,000 in his campaign fund at the end of September.

Two years ago at this time, when he was preparing for the 2004 campaign, Regula had $56,000 in his fund.

Regula defeated Jeff Seemann, a Democratic activist, by more than 2-1 in the 2004 contest. He spent more than $600,000 on the race.

In addition, Regula has more than $210,000 in a separate “leadership” fund, which he uses to support other Republican candidates. Federal campaign rules allow him to transfer no more than $10,000 from that fund to his own campaign.

Democratic officials in Washington, D.C., say they believe Regula is vulnerable.

“We are actively recruiting candidates” to challenge Regula, said Sarah Feinberg, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

No Democratic opponent has yet emerged, said Johnnie A. Maier Jr., chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party.

Curt Braden, chairman of the Stark County Republican Party, welcomed Regula’s bid for re-election. Braden has not heard of any other Republicans who are thinking about challenging Regula for the nomination, he said.