No Special Election to Replace Ousted Traficant


Jun 10, 2002
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No Special Election to Replace Ousted Traficant
By Jim Burns Senior Staff Writer
July 25, 2002

( - Voters in Ohio's 17th congressional district will have to wait until November to elect a replacement for Democrat James Traficant, who was expelled from the House by his colleagues Wednesday night. Ohio's Republican Governor Bob Taft decided Thursday not to hold a special election that would have filled the vacant seat sooner.

"I have concluded that a special election would result in significant cost and has the potential for widespread voter confusion," said Taft in a statement in Columbus.

"Our first priority is to the citizens of the 17th congressional district. In these difficult economic times, it is simply unfair to ask these taxpayers to expend such an enormous amount of money to elect a representative who could serve them for only a few weeks," Taft added.

The general election is slated for Nov. 5. Special primary and general elections to fill the Traficant seat would have cost taxpayers as much as $800,000, according to Taft and other state officials.

Despite a conviction on ten felony corruption charges, which prompted Wednesday's expulsion from the House, Traficant still plans to seek re-election as an Independent. He will face Democratic and Republican opposition.

The Youngstown Vindicator newspaper, in an on-line poll Thursday, asked: "If the election were today, who would you vote for in the 17th congressional district race?" As of 12 p.m., Thursday, Traficant led with 48 percent, followed by Republican Ann Womer Benjamin with 27 percent, Democrat Tim Ryan with 23 percent and Independent Warren Davis with 1 percent.

Although Traficant had managed to alienate himself from the House Democratic leadership, the party still hopes to keep control of the blue-collar district in northeast Ohio. Republican strategists maintain that with Traficant in the race, a split vote could propel their candidate to victory.

38K a Year for Life

Even if he fails to regain his congressional seat, Traficant, with nine terms in the House under his belt, stands to receive a $38,000 per year pension for the rest of his life, a benefit that the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) believes is undeserved.

The NTU is angry that American taxpayers could be "footing the bill" for the "next chapter" in Traficant's life.

"Congress and the courts can pass judgment on lawmakers like Jim Traficant, but taxpayers still don't get the fiscal justice they deserve," said NTU president John Berthoud.

"Despite the major offenses involved in this case, only conviction of a 'high crime' like treason deprives Members of Congress of their pension," Berthoud said.

Traficant was expelled on a 420-1 vote. Rep. Gary Condit, the outgoing California Democrat whose own political career went up in flames because of his relationship with a Washington intern who later became the victim of a homicide, was the only one who voted against expulsion.

Nine House members voted present: Reps. Roscoe Bartlett, (R-Md.); Michael Bilirakis, (R-Fl.); Sonny Callahan, (R-Ala.); Harold Ford Jr., (D-Tenn.); John Hostettler, (R-Ind.); C.L. Otter, (R-Idaho); Ron Paul, (R-Texas); Mike Simpson, (R-Idaho); and Don Young, (R-Alaska.)

Reps. David Bonior, (D-Mich Joseph Knollenberg, (R-Mich.), Cliff Stearns, (R-Fla.) and Traficant did not vote.

Traficant will be sentenced in Cleveland next Tuesday. He is 61 years old and was first elected to the House in 1984.

Bald Eagle

Dec 8, 2001
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What a goofball.  I think he had some great ideas but I also think he nuts.

How about only 9 congressmen present!!!  I suppose all the others were out on the golf course.  I say fire all of them.

(Edited by Bald Eagle at 9:59 pm on July 25, 2002)

(Edited by Bald Eagle at 10:02 pm on July 25, 2002)

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