2006 Ohio's 13th congressional district election

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Democratic primary winner, Betty Sutton

The Ohio 13th congressional district election, 2006 was an election for the United States House of Representatives. It was an open seat because Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown ran for the U.S. Senate. The primaries were on May 2, 2006, and were won by Democrat Betty Sutton, a former State Senator, and Republican Craig L. Foltin, the mayor of Lorain, Ohio. The general election was held on November 7, 2006, general election and was won by Betty Sutton.

Primary campaign[edit]


The candidates included:

  • Businessman Joe Ortega
  • Attorney David McGrew
  • Lorain Mayor Craig L. Foltin
  • Car dealer Charles DeLorean, brother of automobile legend John De Lorean


The candidates included:

  • Chardon labor lawyer and former State Representative Betty Sutton, who was warmly welcomed into the race by labor leaders and the DCCC.
  • Long-time Akron attorney, Democratic activist, and World War II vet John Wolfe.
  • Former Congressman Tom Sawyer, who had poor fundraising among individual donors and lingering labor hostility over his "yes" vote on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993.
  • Youngstown-bred shopping center heiress Capri Cafaro, loser to Steve LaTourette in Ohio's 14th congressional district in 2004, in a race where she put more than $1.6 million of her own money into the campaign
  • Gary J. Kucinich, a former elected city councilman and school board member in Cleveland, a brother of 10th District Democratic Representative Dennis J. Kucinich
  • Elyria Mayor Bill Grace

Cafaro was seen as potentially vulnerable because of her involvement with disgraced U.S. Rep. James Traficant. Cafaro was granted immunity in 2003, when she testified in the federal trial of Richard Detore, who was eventually acquitted of trying to bribe Traficant. Cafaro and Detore worked together at Virginia-based USAerospace, a company her father, J. J. Cafaro, started in an ill-fated attempt to develop laser technology for airport runways. Cafaro was not charged with any wrongdoing, but still is seen as having too close a connection to past scandal for an election in which Republican corruption figures to be a dominant theme. Capri Cafaro testified that she did not conspire with Traficant, but noted the "gray area of impropriety."[1]

Emily's List supported Betty Sutton over Capri Cafaro. Cafaro is quoted "complaining that the real reason for the Emily's List snub is her support for parental notification of abortions performed on minors, although she otherwise supports women's right to choose. Sutton is more unqualifiedly pro-life."[2] Frustrated with her opponents connecting her to Traficant, Cafaro threatened to sue her rivals for impugning her character based on her grant of immunity to testify.[1]

In March, the National Rifle Association (NRA) endorsed Cafaro.

On March 31, The Plain Dealer endorsed Sawyer, followed a few days later by the Akron Beacon Journal.

Sutton was able to frame the race in terms of corruption. This played well in Ohio, in particular, with various state scandals, in addition to the indictment and conviction of Bob Ney from Ohio's 18th district, relating to the Abramoff scandal. Between Cafaro's ties to Traficant, and still lingering resentment about Tom Sawyer's support of NAFTA, Sutton had a winning combination. Additionally, Sutton "charged that Sawyer "went on 34 different junkets" from 1996 through 2000 and availed himself of more free trips than any other Ohio congressman during that time."[3]

In the last two weeks of April, Sutton gained 11 points in the polls.[4] Soon after that, The Ohio AFL-CIO, who had backed Cafaro in the 2004 race (in a different district), endorsed Sutton.

Robert Novak wrote: "Not only is Cafaro the candidate of the NRA, she is also the candidate Republicans believe will be the easiest to defeat -- probably the only one in the field they could beat in a district like this one. She ran a lackluster campaign in 2004 against neighboring Rep. Steven LaTourette (R), and her grant of prosecutorial immunity in exchange for testimony in the trial of former Rep. James Traficant (D) remains mysterious. Only if she wins will Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin (R) have a chance in November."

Primary election results[edit]


Official results[5]

Candidate Occupation Votes %
Craig Foltin Mayor, Lorain, Ohio 12,088 37.46%
David McGrew 7,079 21.94%
Joe Ortega, III 6,536 20.25%
Paul S. Burtzlaff 4,261 13.20%
C. J. DeLorean 2,306 7.15%


Official results[6]

Candidate Occupation Votes %
Betty Sutton former State Representative 21,268 31.29%
Capri S. Cafaro 16,915 24.88%
Thomas C. Sawyer former Congressman 14,837 14.55%
Gary J. Kucinich 9,891 14.55%
Bill Grace 3,537 5.20%
Michael Lyons 1,030 1.52%
John L. Wolfe 949
Norbert G. Dennerll, Jr. 495 0.73%

Note: As of May 4, 2007, the Ohio Secretary of State web site ignores the John L. Wolfe vote when calculating the other candidate vote percentages.

General election[edit]

This was a Democratic seat to begin with. Normally, Democrats would have very little trouble holding this district. But Republicans appeared to have scored a coup by recruiting Lorain Mayor Foltin, a popular figure in a city that gave George W. Bush only 27% of the vote. Foltin's personal base in a Democratic stronghold gives Republicans a glimmer of hope. Sutton, who won the Democratic primary after a very nasty campaign, generates little excitement, though she is a very viable contender. But one of her defeated opponents, former Congressman Sawyer, not only refused to endorse her but filed a campaign finance violation complaint with the Federal Election Commission.

Making matters for harder GOP candidate Foltin, Sherrod Brown, the incumbent in the district, is leading in his race for Senator as of October, and Democrat Ted Strickland leads in his race for U.S. Senator from Ohio, though both races are close. Combine that with the statewide troubles of Ohio (the guilty plea of Governor Bob Taft, Coingate, and the guilty plea of Congressman Bob Ney), and prospects get even harder for Foltin. When the Mark Foley scandal broke in late September, many observers decided that there were too many obstacles for Foltin to overcome.[7]

As of June 30, the most recent date for which figures currently are available, Sutton had raised $802,000, while Foltin had taken in $373,000.[7]

On October 11, AP reported that the GOP scaled back their expenditures in this race.[8] Cook Political Report rating: Likely Democratic. CQPolitics rating: Democratic Favored.


Official results [9]

Candidate Occupation Votes %
Betty Sutton former State Representative 129,290 61%
Craig Foltin Mayor of Lorain 81,997 39%


  1. ^ a b Luttner, Steve, Cafaro says get immunity deal right or she'll sue, The Plain Dealer, April 10, 2006, retrieved May 4, 2007.
  2. ^ Yellow Dog Sammy, Cong. OH-13: Emily's List Prefers Sutton (D) over Cafaro (D), Ohio2006 Blog, January 27, 2006, retrieved May 4, 2007.
  3. ^ Giroux, Greg, OH 13: Ethics Emerges as Key Issue in Race to Succeed Brown, CQPolitics.com, April 6, 2006, retrieved May 4, 2007.
  4. ^ Survey: Three-way tie in 13th district, April 27, 2006, WKYC-TV, retrieved May 4, 2007.
  5. ^ Ohio Secretary of State, Election Results, Republican U.S. House of Representatives, Official Amended Results: May 2, 2006.
  6. ^ Ohio Secretary of State, Election Results, Democratic U.S. House of Representatives, Official Amended Results: May 2, 2006.
  7. ^ a b Hopkins, Cheyenne, Foley Scandal May Ensure Ohio 13 Stays in Democrats’ Hands, CQPolitics.com, October 9, 2006, retrieved May 4, 2007.
  8. ^ David Espo (October 11, 2006). "House GOP Revamps TV Ad Campaign Plans". AP.
  9. ^ CNN, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES / OHIO 13, Election Results, U.S. House of Representatives, Official Amended Results: November 9, 2006, retrieved May 4, 2007.

External links[edit]