Sunday, May 05, 2002

Warren congressional districts shuffled

Some county residents to vote in Dayton-area race

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — When Warren County residents go to the polls Tuesday, most will be voting in a different congressional district than they did two years ago.

        Mason residents, in particular, might be surprised to find they have a say in the heated U.S. House race that's taking place up in Dayton between the former mayor and a publisher.

        New districts drawn by the Ohio General Assembly early this year put Lebanon and most of southern Warren County — formerly in Rep. Ted Strickland's snakelike 6th District — in Rep. Rob Portman's 2nd District.

        Most of those in northern Warren County who are now in Mr. Portman's district will soon be in the open 3rd District.

        The 3rd, made up of Dayton and its suburbs, is represented by Congressman Tony Hall, a Democrat.

        Under the new districts, which take effect with the November election, the 3rd will include only part of Dayton and stretch east to northern Warren as well as all of Clinton and Highland counties.

        The new 3rd also dips down to take in the northern two-thirds of Mason — a fact that doesn't please Masonites who are aware of it.

        “I've offered to take a compass up to the legislature to help them figure out which direction is north and which is south,” said Chuck Beatty, a Mason Republican who will be in the new 3rd. “We don't have nearly as much in common with Dayton as we do with Rob Portman.”

        Many residents don't even know they'll be in the 3rd.

        State Rep. Tom Raga, R-Deerfield Township, has been campaigning for former Dayton Mayor Mike Turner, one of three men vying for the GOP nomination.

        “The folks in northern Warren County are following this, because they see it on Dayton TV,” Mr. Raga said. “(Mason) is where we've had to do most of the education.”

        Running against Mr. Turner are Brown Publishing CEO Roy Brown and businessman Greg Hunter.

        The fierce contest between Mr. Turner and Mr. Brown has included skirmishes over who's the staunchest abortion opponent. (Mr. Turner got Ohio Right to Life's endorsement.) Also, Mr. Turner has filed a Federal Elections Commission complaint against Mr. Brown.

        Mr. Raga is trying to boost interest among Mason Republicans, he said, by pointing out that the race could have national implications.

        The 3rd had formerly been a Democratic stronghold, but Mr. Hall is not seeking re-election in the suddenly more Republican district.

        Instead, the GOP nominee will face Mr. Hall's chief of staff, Richard Carne.


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