Politics

Traficant likely to make it on ballot this week, but chances to make a splash in race slim

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

It appears that former Democratic Rep. Jim Traficant — the Ohio congressman who was expelled from the House in 2002 and served seven years in prison for bribery, racketeering and tax evasion — will likely be allowed to run for his old seat as an independent after meetings this week.

Making it onto the ballot has not been easy for Traficant, whose supporters have been embroiled in a battle with the state over whether he has enough signatures to be listed on the ballot in November. But it appears now — after the Ohio secretary of state intervened last week giving Traficant more time to make his case — that election officials will accept his signatures.

One Ohio news source, Vindy.com, reported Saturday that a Mahoning County Board of Elections member said Traficant would likely be approved at a Wednesday meeting.

Linda Kovachik, a Traficant supporter, told the paper that, “We’re on the ballot. I’m so excited. I may be crazy, but I’m not lazy.”

The Daily Caller was unable to reach Traficant at a home phone number Sunday. Reached at that number several weeks ago, Traficant refused to answer a reporter’s question, saying “not today,” and promptly hanging up.

If permitted to run, Traficant would challenge his former aide, Democrat Rep. Tim Ryan, and Republican Jim Graham in November.

Youngstown State University political science professor William Binning told the Tribune Chronicle this weekend that Traficant’s chances of reclaiming his seat are very small, and that Ryan is “still the overwhelming favorite.”

”I think that Jim (Traficant) gained from this a little bit. This ballot battle helped give him publicity and made it seem like he had supporters. I’m going to place his number at 20 to 25 percent,” Binning said, referring to the percentage of the vote he thinks Traficant will garner if on the ballot in November.