August 8, 2006
Ney loss would cost some clout for his district
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON - Rep. Bob Ney’s decision to drop his re-election bid
means his successor will be a freshman lawmaker without nearly the
clout the six-term lawmaker had.
Still, congressional observers say, constituents will benefit
because the district — which stretches from Carroll to Ross
counties — is competitive enough politically that neither
Republicans nor Democrats can take it for granted. They reason
that whoever succeeds the Heath Republican will get strong support
from his or her party to fend off threats from a challenger in the
That could include help passing legislation or earmark spending
projects for the district.
Ney, a former committee chairman first elected to the House in
1994, has used his seniority and leadership positions to battle
for measures that benefit the district, including tariffs that
President Bush imposed on foreign steel several years ago to
bolster the struggling industry.
In the past two years alone, Ney got more than $80 million for
highway, dam and water projects, flood prevention and other
initiatives that benefited the district, according to a spending
As one of just two lawmakers from Ohio on the House Transportation
Committee, Ney steered more than the average congressman’s share
of highway spending to his area.
When Congress passed the highway bill in July 2005, it included
$52 million in projects that Ney had requested for his district,
said Keith Ashdown, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense,
an organization that monitors congressional spending.
The average congressional district received just $12.8 million in
highway projects in the bill, Ashdown said.
Ney also has used his clout — which sprang from his early and
active role as a GOP campaigner and fund-raiser — to influence
legislation that benefits the steel and coal industries, organized
labor, housing and Appalachian development.
“A freshman member does not have that kind of influence,” said
Richard J. Semiatin, assistant professor of political science at
American University in Washington.
Still, if Ney were replaced by a freshman, it wouldn’t be a
totally bleak picture for his constituents. “I think both parties
would recognize that the district would be up for grabs the next
time,” said Herb Asher, a political science professor at Ohio
Asher said party colleagues would likely help involve the freshman
in sponsoring legislation and getting projects beneficial to the
“It would be a competitive district,” he said. “Clearly, whether
it’s a Republican freshman or a Democratic freshman, the