Rep. John Boccieri (D)
Ohio 16th District
A little more than a century ago, Canton, Ohio, was at the center of American politics. It was already an industrial city, though unlike Youngstown and Cleveland, it didn’t have huge steel factories. Its high-skill workers were fashioning new kinds of plows and reapers, making watches and, beginning in 1899, roller bearings. Canton did not attract masses of immigrants. Its factories did not run on harsh stopwatch discipline, and the class-warfare politics of other northern Ohio industrial cities did not take root here. Its most famous citizen was Republican President William McKinley, who rose to the rank of major at 22 in the Civil War, was elected congressman and governor, and chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. As the Republican nominee for president in 1896, McKinley campaigned from his front porch in Canton, meeting with delegations brought in by train from around the country. This spectacle, displaying both technological virtuosity and personal modesty, sounded a reverberating note in American politics, as did the McKinley platform—the “full dinner pail,” the gold standard, the enforcement of law and order in labor relations. More than a century later, Canton is a community still based on manufacturing, but one troubled by manufacturing job losses, including those stemming from the crash of the domestic auto industry in 2009. Less widely reported are new jobs in smaller factories, like an Alliance casting plant reopened to make rail-car parts with 420 jobs. However, Canton has suffered a net loss of jobs in recent years. It has become best known as the home of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, with its football-shaped roof.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 16th Congressional District of Ohio includes all of Canton and Stark County, plus Wayne County to the west and most of Ashland and Medina counties. Wayne County is home to the College of Wooster and the headquarters of Smuckers, which has acquired new brands from other food companies—Jif peanut butter, Hungry Jack pancakes, and Folgers Coffee. In the southern part of the county is the largest Amish settlement in the world, where people drive horse-drawn tractors, eschew automobiles and electricity, and quit school after the eighth grade. Tourism has been a growth industry in Amish country, with restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and gift shops. Ashland is a smaller, non-metropolitan county. Johnny Appleseed once lived on what is now the campus of Ashland University. Medina County, north of Wayne, is part of the Cleveland metropolitan area. Politically, this area is generally Republican, though not always by wide margins. Stark County was the only Ohio county that Republican George W. Bush carried in 2000 but lost in 2004, both times by narrow margins. In 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won the county 52%-46%, but it wasn’t enough for him to win the entire district, which voted 50%-48% for Republican John McCain.
Rep. John Boccieri (D)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: Oct. 5, 1969, Youngstown .
Education: St. Bonaventure U., B.S. 1992; Webster U., M.A., M.P.A. 1996.
Family: Married (Stacey Kennedy-Boccieri); 4 children.
Military career: Air Force Reserve, 1994-present (Iraq, Afghanistan).
Elected office: Ohio House of Reps., 2000-06; Ohio Senate, 2006-08.
Professional Career: Pro baseball player, 1992; Leg. aide, state Rep. Rich Cordray, 1992-94.
The new congressman from the 16th Congressional District is John Boccieri, a Democrat elected in 2008. The son of schoolteachers, Boccieri grew up in Youngstown and went to college on a baseball scholarship, graduating from New York’s St. Bonaventure University in 1992 with a degree in economics. He tried out for several Major League baseball teams and played a season as an outfielder and catcher in the independent professional Frontier League. He made the transition to politics by taking a job as a legislative aide to Democratic state Rep. Rich Cordray, who later became Ohio treasurer. In 2000, Boccieri was elected to the Ohio House, where he rose to assistant minority whip, the fourth-ranking Democratic position in the House. (A member of the Air Force Reserve, he had to give up the post in 2003 when he was called to Iraq to fly cargo planes.) In 2006, he won a seat in the state Senate, where he carved out a niche working on veterans issues. He sponsored a bill that sought job protection for service members returning from active duty. His cosponsor was Republican state Sen. Kurt Schuring, who would become his opponent for the House seat.
|John Boccieri (D)||169,044||(55%)||($1,722,377)|
|Kirk Schuring (R)||136,293||(45%)||($1,208,527)|
|John Boccieri (D)||71,038||(64%)|
|Mary Cirelli (D)||40,429||(36%)|
Boccieri decided to run for the U.S. House after 18-term Rep. Ralph Regula announced his retirement at age 84. Schuring was Regula’s handpicked successor and won the GOP primary 47%-42% against Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller. Money and the issue of residency played major roles in the general election campaign. Boccieri raised nearly $1.8 million to Schuring’s $1.2 million. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invested heavily in the race, spending more than $300,000 just days before the election. The National Republican Congressional Committee, strapped for cash, all but gave up on the seat in the weeks leading up to the election. Schuring complained that the Democrats were “trying to buy the seat” and criticized Boccieri for having only recently moved to Alliance from outside the district and for changing his voter registration. But Boccieri won this formerly Republican territory by a surprisingly large 55%-45% split. In Stark County, which cast 59% of the vote, he led 57%-43%. He lost 51%-49% in Ashland, the smallest county in the district.
In the House, Boccieri was named to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and to the Agriculture Committee for the 111th Congress (2009-2010).