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Published: Thursday, 9/13/2007

Ohio Rep. Latta will seek Gillmor's seat in Congress

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN State Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) confirmed Thursday night that he will run for the congressional seat vacated by the death of Paul Gillmor.

Two other possible contenders for the seat, Republican Rex Damschroder and Democrat Robin Weirauch, said last night they were interested in the seat, but not ready to announce their candidacies just yet.

Mr. Latta, who lost by 27 votes in a Republican primary to Mr. Gillmor for the 5th District congressional seat in 1988, will officially announce his candidacy Friday at a 10 a.m. news conference on the steps of the Wood County Courthouse.

I ve always tried to be a good public servant, said Mr. Latta, whose father, Delbert Latta, held the 5th District seat from 1959 to 1989. That s what my dad taught me a long time ago. I want to continue my public service, not only here in northwest Ohio, but in Ohio and this great country of ours. This is a very large region a region with where the potential is fantastic. I plan to be a part of the solution.

Mr. Latta hopes to replace his former competitor, Mr. Gillmor, who was laid to rest Wednesday in his hometown of Old Fort. He died Sept. 5 in his townhouse in Arlington, Va., apparently from injuries suffered in a fall down a staircase, authorities said.

At a memorial service for Mr. Gillmor held in Tiffin Wednesday, family and friends remembered his tight race against Mr. Latta, a victory that opened the door for an 18-year run in Congress.

Now Mr. Latta, who is currently in his fourth term in the Ohio House and has previously served as a state senator and Wood County commissioner, will attempt to gain the seat that slipped out of his hands two decades ago.

That election never stayed with me at all, he remembered. After it was over, I never lost a minute of sleep. I just went forward.

We moved on. One thing my dad taught me never to do was look back. I ve always just looked forward and gone from there.

Mr. Damschroder, a former state representative who challenged Mr. Gillmor in the 2002 primary, said that he had not decided whether to run for the seat.

But he added that he has spent hours on the telephone mulling a campaign.

I m not announcing today, Mr. Damschroder, 57, of Fremont, said Thursday night.

He is a pilot, real estate agent, teacher, and former travel agency owner.

Among his considerations, he said, is the large geographical size of the district and the fact that few people are well known throughout each of those counties.

He also said he s awaiting the announcement of the special election dates, evaluating how running and potentially serving in Congress would affect his businesses and family, and thinking about the cost of a campaign.

He estimated a well-funded campaign would cost $250,000 for the first election alone, depending how many candidates are in the race. And he said he believes a dozen people are seriously considering running.

What would set him apart if he decides to run is his record of fiscal responsibility during his eight years in the Ohio legislature, he said.

The major problem we re facing is just overspending by politicians, he said.

Ms. Weirauch, a Democrat from Henry County, who ran against Mr. Gillmor in the last two elections, said she will be in the race in the special election to replace him.

But Ms. Weirauch, who has been a full-time candidate preparing for the next regular election, offered few details about her candidacy Thursday night, saying her official announcement will be made in a few days in Wood County.

Ms. Weirauch, 50, who lives west of Napoleon in Napoleon Township, said she chose Wood County for her official announcement because it is the largest county in the district and because she had a good showing there in her last campaign.

Ms. Weirauch s previous occupations include eight years as assistant director of the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University and 10 years as a program coordinator with the Humane Society of the United States.

She was president and co-founder of the Henry County Humane Society.

Staff writer Jane Schmucker contributed to this report.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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