Sources: New Map Minus Traficant - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Sources: New Map Minus Traficant

By JOHN McCARTHY, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The congressional district of Democrat James Traficant (pictured, right) would be divided among other districts on a map legislative Republicans are drawing for this year's elections, sources familiar with the map told The Associated Press on Friday.

Republican and Democratic sources speaking on condition of anonymity said the districts of Reps. Steven LaTourette and Robert Ney, both Republicans, and Democrat Tom Sawyer should get the bulk of the northeast Ohio district.

The sources emphasized the final lines were not set but that Traficant's district would be divided. A bill that would set the new lines is to be introduced in the Legislature next week.

Sources would not comment on why Traficant's district was targeted.

Traficant is scheduled next month to go on trial on federal corruption charges. He plans to seek re-election and would have to face an incumbent in the May 7 primary under the map being considered.

Ohio must lose one of its 19 congressional seats because its population did not grow as much as other states during the 1990s.

Since the GOP-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Bob Taft must sign off on the new map, a Democrat is certain to be the target.

The districts of Sawyer, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Sherrod Brown, Ted Strickland and Stephanie Tubbs Jones should remain more favorable to Democrats, the sources said. The Dayton-area district of Democrat Tony Hall, however, likely will be expanded into Republican territory, the sources said.

The Legislature must pass a redistricting bill by the end of the month to begin the election process for the May primary. However, to meet the Feb. 21 filing deadline, the bill must include an emergency clause so candidates will have legal districts in which to file.

That would require the help of minority Democrats. Although Republicans hold majorities in both houses of the Legislature, they don't have the two-thirds needed to include an emergency clause.

The sources said Republican leaders were continuing their talks with Democrats, with both sides hoping to avoid a later, separate primary for congressional candidates.

Traficant, who has represented the Youngstown area since 1985, has been indicted on bribery and conspiracy charges. The federal government says he accepted gifts and favors in exchange for using his political influence. Traficant is to act as his own attorney at the trial to begin Feb. 4.

Traficant plans to seek re-election, but will have to study the final map before deciding which district he will run in, spokesman Charles Straub said.

"The congressman will look at the way the map's drawn up," Straub said. "He'll make his run where it's most appropriate."

Hall will seek re-election, spokesman Michael Gessel said.

"He is planning to run in (his current) 3rd Congressional District, wherever the lines are drawn, and he is planning to win," Gessel said.

One Democratic concern is the southern Ohio district represented by Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat. Strickland's district likely will be drawn eastward, up the Ohio River, as Ney's district moves to the west, the sources said.

Strickland said he would feel "very, very at home" in riverside counties. His current district stretches along the river from Portsmouth to Marietta.

"If, in fact, the district is primarily a river district, I'm very familiar with those counties. They are counties that have a lot in common," Strickland said.

Strickland said he was concerned that his district would be pushed northward to include Licking County, home to state Sen. Jay Hottinger. Republicans approached Hottinger about running for Congress months ago, but he said Friday that he likely would seek re-election to the Senate.

"With the lines I think that ultimately will be approved, I would not be a candidate for Congress," Hottinger said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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