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Published: Saturday, 3/1/2008

5th District Congressional primary draws 2 GOP challengers to Latta

BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Scott Radcliffe, an Iraq war veteran, campaigns from his Perrysburg office for the seat formerly held by Paul Gillmor. Scott Radcliffe, an Iraq war veteran, campaigns from his Perrysburg office for the seat formerly held by Paul Gillmor.
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A young Iraq war veteran taking on newly elected Congressman Bob Latta and another challenger in Tuesday's Republican primary says the leadership and decision-making skills he learned in the military are needed in Congress.

"I've seen how tough decisions are made and were made," said Scott Radcliffe, 28, of Perrysburg, who recently finished his second tour of duty in Iraq.

He is seeking elected office for the first time, running against Mr. Latta and Michael Reynolds, a part-time merchandiser, author, actor, and recording artist from Putnam County's Columbus Grove.

Mr. Lattta of Bowling Green was elected in December after the unexpected death of Rep. Paul Gillmor.

In that contest, Mr. Latta defeated Robin Weirauch, a Democrat who lives west of Napoleon in Napoleon Township. In an earlier primary, he narrowly defeated state Sen. Steve Buehrer of Fulton County's Delta.

Mr. Latta served as a Wood County commissioner, a state representative, and state senator before his election to Congress. He has been assigned to the House committees on agriculture, transportation, and infrastructure.

Mr. Latta's father, Delbert Latta, was the district's congressman from 1959 until 1989.

Mr. Latta said he's been campaigning whenever the House is not in session.

"You can only run two ways - unopposed or scared," he said, a lesson he learned from his father's 18 general elections. "Every two years, he had an opponent, and he ran a campaign every time," Mr. Latta said.

Mr. Radcliffe, in explaining why he is running, focused on his service in the military and the leadership skills he said he learned. He attained the rank of captain in the military.

In his first tour in Iraq, Mr. Radcliffe served as a tank platoon leader, he said. During his second tour, he was a speech writer for Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno. Between the two tours, he was deployed to New Orleans for a month following Hurricane Katrina. He returned from his second Iraq tour in December.

He is a graduate of Perrysburg High School and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Mr. Gillmor was the congressional sponsor for Mr. Radcliffe to attend West Point.

"He did all kinds of things to keep in touch with us and remind us that we were his cadets," Mr. Radcliffe said.

Mr. Radcliffe said he believes his conservative background makes him a good fit for the district. His campaign literature promotes him as a someone who will "defend family values, promote small business, and provide leadership in the war on terror" as well as reduce taxes and government spending.

While he said he tends to agree with most Republican policies, if elected, he would be more than a party-line legislator.

Case in point: He wants to scale back President Bush's No Child Left Behind education policy, which he says was "good in theory," but in practice left teachers teaching to the test and "sucked the creativity out of the classroom."

He said he believes that veterans should serve as legislators. He's a member of Iraq Veterans for Congress, a group of vets running for Congress in several states.

Mr. Radcliffe said he favors continuing the war and letting Iraq develop into a stable, sovereign nation at its own pace, drawing out U.S. forces as conditions allow.

Mr. Radcliffe said he knows running against an incumbent congressman won't be easy.

"I've got nothing to lose," he said. "I came here. I set up a campaign in two weeks. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle."

He's hoping running in a presidential primary year will work in his favor.

"A lot of the folks that are coming out might be looking for change, might be looking for a new face," he said.

Should he lose the election, Mr. Radcliffe said he's not sure what he'll do career-wise. "I'm focused on March 4."

Mr. Reynolds, 57, also is campaigning, though he concedes, "I don't have an organization like the other people do. I'm on a shoestring."

Mr. Reynolds has been campaigning as he travels around the district while working part-time as a merchandiser, he said.

He's running to help represent lower-income residents.

"I think that with me being from a lower-income bracket, there's not enough representation for the lower-income bracket," he said. "People fall in between the cracks quite a bit."

According to his Web site, Mr. Reynolds is an author, actor, and recording artist.

He advocates dropping the federal income tax and instituting a national sales tax, according to his Web site, which also advertises a compact disc of him reading patriotic poems.

The 16-county Fifth District is made up of Crawford, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Huron, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Van Wert, Williams, and Wood counties as well as parts of Ashland, Lucas, Mercer, and Wyandot counties.

Contact Kate Giammarise at:

kgiammarise@theblade.com

or 419-724-6133.



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