Friday, June 25, 2010

Three is not a crowd in Tim Ryan's Youngstown district

IT DIDN'T TAKE the gay-bashers more than a second or two to befoul the internet with their ugliest comments after Mahoning County Democratic Chairman David Betras announced that Rep. Barney Frank will be the keynote speaker at a party fundraiser in mid-August. Homophobia and racism will always be with us and a blog's "open mike" is only a modern convenience for the haters who used to spend more of their time scribbling on bathroom walls. .
Meantime, Betras, who impresses you as an unflinching free spirit, says he couldn't care less about what the off-the-page critics are saying about his choice. It is a sort of Youngstown gift of self-styled political immunity that has been around for a long time.

"This is big for the Mahoning Valley," Betras told the Youngstown Vindicator. "Anytime I can get powerful people to the Valley, I'll do it. We'll have him in a room with Valley people to discuss our issues and concerns. It can only help the area having him here," Frank says of the visit by Frank (Clue: Frank, a Democrat, is chairman of the House Financial services Committee, through whom many blessings can flow.)

There's also a congressional campaign going on in Betras' 17th district involving Tim Ryan, the popular Democratic congressman , and a once-widely popular ex-congressman, Jim Traficant, the 69-year-old convicted felon who completed a seven- year prison term ( bribery and corruption) in time to file as an independent candidate. There's also a Republican candidate, Jim Graham, a Cortland pharmacist, that Betras refuses to discuss, saying only: "I don't like Republicans!"

Need I mention that it is a heavily Democratic district? Betras and some other observers believe Ryan is heading for victory, but concede that Traficant still maintains a die-hard corps or loyalists. And there may be complications. David Skolnick, the Vindicator's political writer, says that although Traficant hasn't been on the ballot for eight years , "he certainly has his followers" but hasn't made anypersonal appearances in the District lately.

There may be a name ID for Graham, Skolnick says, that could have confusion value. Graham's cousin, also named Jim Graham, is the UAW president in the district who is supporting Ryan.

Over at Youngstown State University political science Prof . Keith Lepak enthusiastically says he's a great fan of Traficant and would easily vote for him - but can't. "I live in Sharon, Pennsylvania," he says.

Traficant, Lepak says, is an "archetypical representative of the district. He's fantastic!" Lepak says he admires Traficant's "great political skills" and his ability to shake things up. On the other hand, Lepak describes Ryan as a "nice young man but a stuffed shirt."

Even if that were true - and I haven't found it so in my few meetings with Ryan - I don't think it will cost him the election against a convicted felon running on nothing more than nostalgia for his good old days and a what's-his-name Republican - even for the Youngstown district where there are occasionally a few surprises.


Hank said...

Professors like Lepak don't do much for the reputation of YSU. Finding Traficant as "fantastic" and having"great political skills" and then describing Ryan as a "nice young man but a stuffed shirt" seems to indicate Lepak is a man out of touch with reality.

LGC said...

Dr. Lepak is one the greatest profs at YSU. I don't necessarily think he's talking about Traficant's positions on the various issues in comparison to Tim Ryan when he calls Traficant "fantastic." Lepak is an admirer of politics as an art form, which is evident if you take his courses on Machiavelli or Nietzsche. And from a strictly artistic perspective, Traficant outpoints Ryan every time.

Traficant is creative and charismatic, while Ryan is pretty run of the mill. Ryan is probably more effective, because he's willing to play the game as the guys at the top want it played. But do we always want our politicians as good little soldiers?

Anonymous said...

So tell me LGC does Prof. Lepak teach political art or political science. Which camp does Trafficant fall into Machiaveli or Nietzsche? In case you don't know it politics is issues and it is important where politicians stand on the issues and how they vote on those issues. Trafficant is a convicted felon and you find that charismatic, really.
" And from a strictly artistic perspective, Traficant outpoints Ryan every time.
Traficant is creative and charismatic, while Ryan is pretty run of the mill." What the hell does that statement mean? That's nothing more than cocktail party conversation.

Mark said...

I have NEVER been a Ryan fan but..
You would have our area be the laughing stock of the entire country by electing a convicted FELON.

I think Ryan has positioned himself masterfully. His recent appointment to the Defense sub committee is bound to bring untold PORK to the area. His reported relationship to the house speakers daughter is also bound to help the valley.