Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Abramoff's Guilty Plea Could Spell Doom for Ney

Former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea yesterday 01/03 could spell doom for Rep. Bob Ney (R-Bellaire). According to the LA Times, the unnamed federal lawmaker in court documents who exchanged legislative favors in Abramoff's behalf for gifts from Abramoff is Bob Ney. But Ney has contiuned to deny any wrongdoing or even acknowledging being aware of Abramoff's illegal actions. But Abramoff's guilty plea could mean his eventual cooperation with federal investigators and an indictment of Bob Ney.

Ney's most recent claim to fame was his resoultion on the House floor to officially rename french fries "freedom fries" in protest against France's refusal to participate in the Iraq War. Ney also chairs the House Committee on Administration, which oversees management of House facilities, including parking spaces for House members. Ney was first elected in the 1994 GOP landslide and re-elected subsequently.

Commentary: His district was redrawn after the 2000 census to make his seat overwhelmingly Republican. But this recent scandal could make his political future uncertain. There is already one declared candidate to defeat and/or succeed Bob Ney. Chillicothe Mayor Joseph Sulzer, Sr. is so far the only declared Democratic candidate for OH-18. Sulzer is a former Ohio House member and current Mayor of Chillicothe, Sulzer was defeated in 2002 for his state house seat by Republican John Schlichter. Sulzer would be Ney's toughest opponent since he defeated Robert Burch, Jr. by less than 4 points in 1996. Oh-18 is now an overwhelmingly GOP district and if Ney would be forced to retire and not run for re-election, a non-Ney GOP candidate would have to be favored, no matter the circumstances surrounding Ney. There are no possible replacements for Ney since he is still officially running for re-election but a feasible GOP list would include: State Rep. John Schlicther, State Sen. Joy Padgett, State Sen. John Carey and State Sen. Ron Amstutz. The Oh-18 runs north into Carroll County and New Philadelphia and extends south all the way to Chillicothe. The district also runs west into the Columbus exurbs of Newark and Mount Vernon.


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