Jim Traficant, former Democratic Congressman for Ohio’s 17th District and convicted felon, has recently been getting airtime for his attempt to get on the 17th District’s ballot again, this time as an independent. Since leaving prison, Traficant has affiliated himself heavily with the Tea Party movement, and has even given interviews to Infowars.com’s Alex Jones while also receiving accolades from current Congressman Ron Paul.
Former Traficant aide and current incumbent Tim Ryan declined comment on Traficant’s attempts to get on the ballot, but 17th District Republican challenger Jim Graham spoke personally to Battle ‘10 about Traficant and Ryan.
“I don’t have any issues with him being on the ballot. He got enough of his people to collect all of the signatures he needed. They’re within 19 or 20 on the ballot right now. There’s a lot of controversy over whether some of the signatures are legible or whether the addresses are legible,” Graham says. “From a personal point, I would say he and his crew have done enough work to get him on the ballot, but I’m focused on Mr. Ryan and I’m focused on him like a laser beam.”
Asked about whether Ryan’s affiliation with Traficant implied anything about Ryan’s ability to work in Congress, Graham tells Battle ‘10, “I don’t know that he ever had the ability to work in Congress. I think he took advantage of a situation when Mr. Traficant went to prison. There were no good or strong enough Republican candidates at the time to take him on. I think it was a knee-jerk reaction by voters in the area. He’s got two strengths — he loves jumping in front of cameras and getting his face in the paper, and the other thing is earmarks.”
Graham also suggested that Ryan himself was probably not corrupt. “He had an interesting youth — I don’t think it’s a matter of corruption,” Graham said. “My issue would be: When he was working with Jim Traficant, what did he know and when did he know it?”