State Rep. Womer Benjamin Turns Attention To Congress

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Passed over to be Gov. Bob Taft's running mate, state Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin has decided to run for Congress.

Benjamin, an Aurora Republican, could be one of several high-profile candidates running for the seat out of the newly drawn 17th district.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer, who has represented the Akron area for 17 years, said Monday he will run for re-election in the 17th, which now includes areas represented by Democrat James Traficant of Youngstown.

Traficant is currently on trial on federal bribery charges. He said he will run again but hasn't chosen which district.

Womer Benjamin has represented northern and eastern Portage County since 1994 and must leave the Legislature next year because of term limits.

She said she can win an election in the 17th even though the district includes the heavily unionized Youngstown area, which Traficant has represented for nine terms.

"It's a very unique area that brings together a variety of interests," Womer Benjamin said.

Although disappointed about losing the lieutenant governor nomination to Jennette Bradley, a Columbus city councilwoman, Womer Benjamin said she was "very honored to be considered."

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