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Wager declined a request for an interview through his fundraising aide, who provided the following statement:
“I’m certainly grateful for the encouragement I’ve received across the district regarding a potential run for U.S. Congress, and am currently discussing with my family and friends what the best way is for me to continue being an active member of my community and advocate for middle class families in Ohio,” he said.
Wager might characterize his campaign as exploratory, but his actions say he’s all-in this race. (The campaign referred further questions about this to their original statement.)
The bigger question now is whether Wager will be the only Democrat to run for this tempting district in 2014. Democrats want to avoid a primary in order to harness their resources behind a single candidate.
The good news for Democrats? At least one other potential candidate, former Rep. Dennis E. Eckart, ruled out a bid in a Jan. 23 email to CQ Roll Call. Eckart, 62, represented a version of this district for more than a decade in the 1980s.
“I loved my time in Congress representing the people of NE Ohio,” Eckart wrote. “A time when elected leaders actually respected each other and worked on common ground for a common good. I left voluntarily to move on to other things. That should say it all.”
Given the allure of this competitive seat, other challengers might emerge soon. In particular, Democratic women’s groups are excited about the prospect of state Rep. Kathleen Clyde running.
Ohio Democrats ticked off a litany of other possible candidates who could run in the district, including Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish, Lake County Commissioner Daniel Troy, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach and state Rep. Lorraine Fende.
None have publicly expressed interest yet — at least not as aggressively as Wager.
Democrats know there’s a closing window of opportunity to pick up this district. Joyce will be much tougher to beat after a second term. They’ve seen it happen before.
LaTourette defeated then-Democratic Rep. Eric D. Fingerhut in the GOP wave of 1994. He won re-election the next cycle with 55 percent of the vote. LaTourette creamed all of his Democratic opponents by at least 20 points after that.