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Published: Friday, 10/22/2004

Bremer bolsters campaign for Oxley's re-election bid

BY STEVE EDER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MANSFIELD, Ohio - U.S. Rep. Mike Oxley traversed Ohio's 4th Congressional District yesterday, meeting with firefighters in Marion Township before hosting the former presidential envoy to Iraq, Paul Bremer, in Mansfield.

With less than two weeks before Mr. Oxley (R., Findlay) faces Democratic challenger Ben Konop of Ada at the polls, the 11-term congressman said the election season offers extra opportunity to meet the residents and groups he represents in Washington.

He spent the morning speaking to high school students at Superior Financial Education Day in Lima before heading to the Marion Township Fire Department.

"It is satisfying to see the results of our work in Washington," said Mr. Oxley, who helped the fire department secure a $205,000 grant. The congressman met with four firefighters in the station's garage.

In the evening, he hosted Mr. Bremer at the first Michael G. Oxley Lecture through the Ashbrook Center. Mr. Oxley and Mr. Bremer met with students in the afternoon before a reception and lecture by the ambassador about Iraq and the war on terrorism.

The Ashbrook Center established the lecture program and scholarship in Mr. Oxley's name. Earlier this year, the congressman delivered a speech on the economy at Ashland University. Portions of last night's program were closed to the media.

Mr. Bremer is the latest big-name figure from the federal government to make an appearance at Mr. Oxley's side in the district. Earlier this month, Mr. Oxley hosted Treasury Secretary John Snow for a barbecue with Republicans in Hancock County.

As Mr. Oxley swept across the district yesterday, Mr. Konop had a full day of campaign events.

The congressional candidates faced-off during a debate in Champaign County on Wednesday and will meet again for a televised showdown in Lima on Wednesday.

Mr. Konop spent much of the afternoon meeting with UAW members in Mansfield. He shook hands during shift changes and spoke at a UAW hall.

While the Democrat talked about bringing fresh ideas and better representation to the area, he repeated claims about Mr. Oxley's ties to big business as the chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee.

"This county only has one vote in Congress and you can't waste that vote on someone who doesn't represent us," said Mr. Konop, an attorney.

After the visit at the fire department, Mr. Oxley criticized his opponent for being too negative and too liberal. "He's the most liberal candidate I've faced," Mr. Oxley said.

"It is a real test of whether this district wants to be represented by a conservative or if it is willing to take a chance with a liberal."

Contact Steve Eder at:

seder@theblade.com or

419-724-6728.



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