By Christina Wilkie - 09/20/10 10:28 PM EDT
Former Democratic congressman and convicted felon Jim Traficant surprised nearly everyone in the political establishment when he made it back onto the ballot this fall, running as an independent for the Youngstown, Ohio, congressional seat he held for 20 years.
One person who isn’t shocked? Traficant’s main opponent, and his former staffer, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).
Ryan is running for a fifth term against Republican Jim Graham, as well as Traficant, who finished serving a seven-year prison sentence for corruption in 2009.
So what’s the strategy for running against your one-time boss?
“Oh man, well, I don’t talk about my opponents,” Ryan demurred. “So I’m going to run a clean campaign and not go there.”
Asked whether he felt he had the upper hand on the always entertaining Traficant, Ryan deftly deflected the question, like a front-runner should.
“What I know is that we had a really good day. Youngstown is growing more manufacturing jobs than any town in the nation,” he said, referring to recently released figures.