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Traficant files for re-election as independent

From Ted Barrett and Tory Flowers
CNN Washington

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. James Traficant, the Ohio Democrat who was convicted on corruption charges last month, filed Monday to run for re-election but this time as an independent, according to the elections board in Trumbull County, Ohio.

To qualify, the nine-term congressman needed to submit 1,176 signatures from voters in the newly drawn 17th Congressional District. A board official said the signatures will be verified by mid-July.

"He's been saying for weeks now he'd file on the 6th," his Capitol Hill press secretary, Charlie Straub, said earlier Monday. "And that's what he intends to do."

A member of Traficant's campaign committee filed the signatures on behalf on the congressman about an hour before a 4 p.m. deadline.

Traficant is appealing his conviction on bribery, racketeering and tax evasion charges. He could be sentenced to 63 years in jail.

Congressional leaders have urged him to resign and have threatened to expel him if he doesn't. The House ethics committee is investigating the matter.

Running as an independent allows Traficant to avoid a primary race against eight-term Democrat Rep. Tom Sawyer, who was placed in the same district as Traficant when the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature redrew the boundaries.

Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin is the sole GOP candidate in the district.




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