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Republicans to challenge Ryan

The number of Republican candidates interested in taking on U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan next year is quite remarkable.

So far, four have pulled nominating petitions from the board of elections in Summit County, the most populous county in the 13th Congressional District, with one filing — and at least two more are campaigning and almost certainly will file by the Dec. 18 deadline.

There’s obviously a great deal of dissatisfaction among Republicans with Ryan, D-Howland, who was first elected to Congress in 2002.

But a jam-packed primary in which the candidates will have to use the limited financial resources the candidates have available doesn’t bode well for the winner of the March 17 Republican primary.

Ryan is a well-entrenched incumbent in one of only four congressional districts in Ohio specifically carved out by state Republicans to favor Democrats. Republicans drew the state’s other 12 to favor their own political party’s candidates.

Ryan’s most competitive re-election race was last year when Republican Chris DePizzo of Cuyahoga Falls lost 61 percent to 39 percent.

None of the candidates running against Ryan have ever won an election before, and for some, this is the first time they are seeking elected office.

Ryan was certainly sidetracked this year during his ill-fated presidential bid and may feel some backlash from voters during next year’s election.

Ryan has struggled this year to raise money for his congressional campaign — which is partly because he was concentrating on his presidential bid and fared poorly in the fundraising department there as well.

Ryan has raised $147,078 so far this year for his congressional campaign as of Sept. 30. He’s spent $224,223 during the same time. With carryover from his previous campaigns, he had only $41,050 in his fund as of Sept. 30.

That isn’t much, but he’s going to easily raise more money than any of his Republican opponents and probably more than all of them combined.

Four of the candidates have filed statements of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission. None had raised the minimum $5,000 as of Sept. 30 that would compel them to file campaign finance reports.

Let’s take a look at what Republicans have pulled petitions so far in the 13th District, which includes parts of Mahoning, Trumbull, Summit, Portage and Stark counties.

Robert J. Santos of Austintown, who served 11 years in the Marine Corps and is currently a Marine Corps recruiter, is the only candidate as of Thursday to file.

Richard Morckel of Akron ran against Ryan in 2016. He barely raised any money three years ago and received 32.3 percent of the vote.

Donald Truex is from Rittman in Wayne County and not in the 13th Congressional District. There’s no law forbidding someone from outside the district running for a congressional seat, but he’s going to struggle with any sort of name identification.

Rob Weber of Oberlin, who like Truex, doesn’t live in the district. He lives in Lorain County. He unsuccessfully ran for the Ohio House’s 56th District seat last year, receiving 37.1 percent of the vote.

Also planning to run against Ryan are: Duane Hennen of Warren and Lou Lyras of Campbell.

This will be the first time Hennen seeks elected office.

Lyras tried to run last year for the 13th District seat as an independent. But he was disqualified for not having enough valid signatures.

We’ll wait to see how the Republican primary shakes out. But as of now, Ryan likely feels good about his prospects for a 10th two-year term in Congress.

Skolnick covers politics for the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator.

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