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Published: Friday, 7/11/2008

Heydinger surprises Ohio Democrats, will not run for 2-year term


COLUMBUS - Ohio House Democrats are scrambling again for a candidate in the Republican-leaning 58th District encompassing Huron, eastern Seneca, and southwestern Lorain counties.

Rep. Tom Heydinger (D., Norwalk), just sworn into office in May, has opted not to seek election for a full two-year term on Nov. 4, citing "emerging health problems'' and a distaste for party headquarter "influences'' over campaigns. He did not resign from his seat, however.

In a written statement, the 68-year-old former Huron County judge complained that the financing of House campaigns is almost completely controlled by the party headquarters in Columbus.

"In the 2006 election for this district, the winning candidate spent more than $240,000 and the losing candidate spent more than $440,000 with the majority of those dollars flowing through the state parties' control,'' he wrote. "With state party generosity comes influences that I do not wish to tolerate.''

The announcement threatens retention of a seat considered crucial to Democrats' hopes of taking control of the House. Democrats need a net gain of four seats.

Mr. Heydinger replaced Amherst attorney Matt Barrett in the chamber and on the ballot after Mr. Barrett abruptly resigned. Mr. Barrett admitted lying about how photos of nude women ended up in a computer presentation that he inadvertently flashed last fall in a government class at Norwalk High School.

Mr. Barrett initially blamed his son, but it was later learned that he knew the women in the photos.

Democrats have begun looking for Mr. Heydinger's ballot replacement.

"I had a long conversation with Rep. Heydinger," said House Democratic leader Joyce Beatty (D., Columbus). "I certainly understand putting his health first.''

Terry Boose, a former Huron County commissioner, is the Republican candidate.

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