OH-16: John Gizzi’s Race of the Week: Renacci vs. Boccieri
At my former employer Human Events, John Gizzi, their brilliant long-time political editor lists the 16th District as one of his Races of the Week:
Ohio 16th Congressional District
Renacci vs. Boccieri
“Flukish” is about the best way to describe the U.S. House race in Ohio’s 16th District (Canton) in 2008. With Republican Rep. Ralph Regula stepping down after 38 years, three GOP candidates waged a hard-fought primary. In November, Democratic State Sen. John Boccieri capitalized on the Republican disunity and rode Barack Obama’s coattails to become the district’s first Democratic congressman in 58 years.
But what a difference two years make! Boccieri (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 8%) has voted for cap-and-trade climate legislation, TARP bailout money and the Obama stimulus package.
“And worst of all, after voting ‘no’ on the Democratic healthcare bill last year because he said the cost was too high, he voted ‘yes’ this year,” charges former Wadsworth Mayor Jim Renacci, Boccieri’s GOP opponent this November. “He put his allegiance to [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi over that to his constituents, and that’s why I’m running.”
Renacci, who won the Republican nomination over two opponents with nearly half the primary vote, likes to note that Boccieri was a state representative and a state senator before going to Congress.
“And I’ve been in business for 27 years,” says the conservative hopeful. “Politics is an avocation and not a profession to me.” The son of a railroad worker and a nurse, Renacci worked as a certified public accountant for the Grant Thornton firm before launching his own business in 1984 with $100. After 16 years of owning, operating and managing nursing homes, he finally sold his company in 2000.
That same year, Renacci was elected council president of Wadsworth and then went on to be mayor. When he began his stint on the council, Wadsworth was saddled with $1.5 million in debt. Under Renacci’s leadership, the town turned red ink into black.
“And we did it,” he recalled, “by cutting $2 million in costs and not raising taxes. There’s no telling what you can do when you apply solid business principles to public problems.”
As federal deficit spending and government programs expand, is there any more cogent case for electing Jim Renacci to Congress?