Cong. 18th: Ney (R) Must Hang On Through Primary
As the noose tightens around the neck of Rep. Bob Ney (R-Heath), the 18th Congressional District incumbent is compelled to stick with his reelection bid for four more weeks or else the Republican Party will wind up with unknown, under-qualified James B. Harris (R-Zanesville) as its official candidate for Congress. This is the real reason why, despite yesterday's capitulation of disgraced former House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) and the increasing threat of guilty pleas by underlings with ties to Ney, the embattled Congressman says "While I respect Tom DeLay's decision, I am not Tom DeLay. I have absolutely no intention of retiring." The Republican Party's predicament is explained in the Cleveland Plain Dealer this way:
"But while the formerly high-ranking lawmakers [DeLay and Ney] are both cited by prosecutors in the ongoing Abramoff case, their situations are different, forcing them and their supporters to follow different campaign strategies. While DeLay had already won the GOP nomination for his Houston-area seat March 7, Ney must wait until a May 2 primary. If Ney were to drop out before then, his primary opponent, Zanesville financial analyst James Brodbelt Harris, would need just one vote to win by default. If Ney resigns or quits the race after winning the primary, the GOP chairmen and secretaries of the counties in the district would be able to appoint a replacement."Of course, the party officially denies that Ney would be replaced now even if it were possible. What else can they say?
So Ney is definitely hanging on for the next month, although if he is indicted before the primary things will get really interesting. Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett has said Ney should step down if he is indicted, but would that still be his position if it means running Harris against a strong Democratic candidate?
"'Even if we had somebody hand-picked who we wanted to replace Bob Ney, we couldn't do it anyway. But that's not the case. Bob Ney is our endorsed candidate,' Ohio GOP spokesman John McClelland said."