U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan and Bill Johnson are seeking re-election

By David Skolnick



U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, D-13th, and Bill Johnson, R-6th, who represent the Mahoning Valley in Congress, are facing challenges in the general election.

Congressional handicappers don’t consider either race – or any of Ohio’s 16 U.S. House contests – to be competitive, however.

Richard Morckel, Ryan’s Republican challenger, raised no money for his race compared to about $950,000 for the incumbent, while Michael Lorentz, Johnson’s Democratic opponent, raised $11,888 to nearly $1.6 million for the incumbent as of Sept. 30.

Ryan of Howland, seeking his eighth two-year term, said he will continue to focus on obtaining funding for the removal of blight and vacant houses, and to build the state’s manufacturing infrastructure through the clean-energy industry.

Ryan backs providing more healthful food choices for students and lower-income citizens as well as making college more affordable by offering more Pell grants and continuing to create an environment to allow additive manufacturing growth in the Mahoning Valley.

Ryan also wants to strengthen the Youngstown Air Reserve Station to make sure it remains in the area by working to get modern C-130J planes at the facility.

“We’re pushing hard for investments at the base, and that includes planes,” he said.

Morckel, running for elected office for the first time, said if elected he would fight to reduce the national debt.

He wants “lean management” of the Department of Veterans Affairs, a push for congressional term limits and objects to the passage of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

The 13th District, which is heavily Democratic, includes most of Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

In the 6th District, Johnson, of Marietta, is seeking his fourth two-year term in Congress.

If re-elected, Johnson said he’ll continue to focus on the jobs and the economy – “eliminating burdensome regulations” – on national security – “making sure our borders are secure” – and trying to reduce the national debt – “getting a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.”

Johnson has sponsored seven bills that have been signed into law and also has authored legislation that’s passed the House that would have the President Barack Obama administration approve more natural-gas exports permits to help create more oil and gas jobs.

Border security is a top issue, he said.

“We don’t have a valid immigration policy if we don’t have strong borders,” he said. “Whether you make it a physical wall or a figurative wall, we have to secure our borders.”

Lorentz, mayor of Belpre in Washington County, said Congress should be required to approve budgets and not be permitted to have shutdowns or threaten them, calling that “nothing more than grandstanding.”

He also wants to have the federal government invest in an infrastructure improvement program.

Lorentz said he’s tried to campaign for the congressional seat in the Republican district, but with Belpre being short-staffed, he said, “I feel guilty leaving the [mayor’s] office to campaign.”

Lorentz also said he’s “disappointed” the Ohio Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruited him to run and then provided him “no financial help.”

The 18-county 6th District includes all of Columbiana County and southern Mahoning County.