Ohio's 16th District: GOP Hits Just Keep Coming
Rep. Ralph Regula's (R-Ohio) long-expected retirement over the weekend adds yet another open seat that Republicans will have to fight hard -- and spend freely -- to win.
Regula has been on retirement lists for the last several cycles due to his age (82) and the fact that he lost his bid for chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee in January 2005.
His retirement -- along with the announcement by fellow Ohio Republican Rep. Dave Hobson (Ohio) that he, too, would not seek re-election -- brings to 12 the number of Republican open seats, one-fourth of which are in the Buckeye State.
Here's our sketch of Regula's district:
Geography: The district takes in all or parts of four northeastern Ohio counties -- Ashland, Medina, Wayne and Stark. Stark County, the population hub of the seat, includes the city of Canton -- home to the football hall of fame.
Electoral Results: Republicans are seeking to paint this as a comfortably GOP seat. President Bush carried it with 53 percent in 2000 and 54 percent in 2004 while Clinton won it narrowly -- 43 percent to 42 percent -- in 1996; in 2006 Gov. Tom Strickland (D) won Stark County with 66 percent while Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) took 57 percent. Regula hadn't faces a serious challenge in decades but against a no-name candidate in 2006 he took 58 percent of the vote -- his lowest total since 1972.
Candidates: State Sen. John Boccieri was in the race against Regula, and even with the seat now open he appears to be the choice of state and national Democrats. Boccieri has a compelling life story including service in the U.S. Air Force and a brief stint as a professional baseball player. For Republicans, things are more muddled. State Sens. Kirk Schuring and Ron Amstutz are in the mix as is state Rep. Scott Oelslager and Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller.
Outlook: National Democrats have been excited about Boccieri for some time now and the fact he has been in the race for months gives him a head start over the eventual Republican nominee. And, Boccieri is almost certain to have a clear primary field while a GOP primary seems extremely likely given how long Regula has held the seat. The district has a slight Republican lean but given the Ohio GOP's ongoing problems in Ohio the race probably starts on neutral ground. Today it looks like a Democratic pickup opportunity.
Looking for other open seat sketches? Click here.
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