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Strickland endorses local Democrat in bid for Congress position

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announced Wednesday that he will endorse a local official in his run for Congress, saying Athens City Law Director Pat Lang is “the right man for the job.”

Lang, a Democrat, is running for the 15th Congressional District. Strickland’s endorsement supports Lang against Republican incumbent Steve Stivers, according to a news release from Lang for Congress.

Scott Wharton, a pilot from Amanda, Ohio, also will run for the Democratic candidacy in the primary election March 6.  Wharton served in the Air Force and, like Lang, graduated from Ohio University.

Stivers is serving his first term in the House of Representatives. He also has served as a state senator and in the Ohio National Guard for 26 years. He lives in Columbus, according to his website.

“We need someone in Washington who will stand up for hardworking Ohioans,” Strickland said in the release. “Pat Lang is the man for the job. He’ll never forget where he came from.”

Athens will be new territory for Stivers after the majority of Athens County was moved into the 15th District during Ohio’s congressional redistricting last year.

Lang is running for Congress because of “mounting frustration” about the state of the economy and unemployment, he said in a previous interview.

“To change Washington, we need to change the people we are sending to Washington,” Lang said.

Lang said in the release that he is honored by Strickland’s endorsement.

“If there has ever been a champion for working men and women and for the middle class, it’s Gov. Strickland,” Lang said in the release. “I intend to fight every day for the values we share.”

Lang, who was elected city law director in 2007, previously worked as an assistant Athens County prosecutor, according to the city’s website. He could not be reached for comment.

Chairman of the Athens County Republican Party Pete Couladis does not think the endorsement will have a significant effect on the primary race.

“It depends on the voters. There are some Democrats out there who didn’t like Strickland; for them, this will have no effect,” Couladis said.

Bill Bias, former chairman of the Athens County Democratic Party, disagreed and said he thinks Strickland’s endorsement will help sway voters.

“I think it speaks volumes on who is the best candidate to fill that position,” Bias said. “Southeast Ohio has confidence in Strickland.”

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