Traficant Says He Will Run In 17th District

By PAUL SINGER, Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. said Tuesday he will run for re-election in the newly formed 17th congressional district, possibly as an independent.

Traficant, D-Ohio, spoke while arriving for his federal corruption trial, which was entering its third week. He is planning to file his candidacy papers in the next few days, he said.

"I don't have too much time to focus on it," he said of his re-election campaign.

Ohio's congressional districts were redrawn this year, reducing the state's delegation from 19 to 18 and eliminating Traficant's northeast Ohio district. The changes reflected population shifts recorded in the 2000 census.

Traficant (pictured, above) has represented the Youngstown-Warren area since 1985. He previously had said he would run again, but he had not chosen a district.

Last week, Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer announced he will seek re-election in a newly drawn 17th district that includes the heavily unionized Youngstown area. Sawyer, 56, has represented the Akron area for 17 years.

Traficant is considering running as an independent after angering members of his own party for years by voting with the Republicans on many bills and helping to elect Republican Dennis Hastert as speaker. He is the only member of the House without committee assignment.

Federal prosecutors have accused Traficant of accepting gifts and favors in exchange for using his political influence, forcing his staff to make cash kickbacks or do favors for him, tax falsification and racketeering.

He has pleaded innocent to 10 counts, including racketeering. He is representing himself, though he is not an attorney.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to 63 years in prison and could face expulsion from the House.

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