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Hobson Creates Another Vacancy

Rep. David Hobson announced his retirement this weekend, making him the third Ohio Republican this cycle to announce his or her departure. First elected in 1990, Hobson was one of the most senior members of the delegation and served on the Appropriations Committee for 14 years.

“It is difficult to walk away from a job where you feel that you have a made difference in improving the lives of others and shaping national policy,” said Hobson. “But after careful thought and consideration, I believe that it is time for me to do this. Therefore, I am announcing that I will not file for re-election.”

Hobson reportedly wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren and told news outlets that the recent death of his colleague, Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio), played a huge part in his decision to retire now.

Hobson’s district is considered reliably Republican. Hobson won with at least 61 percent of the vote in every one of his general elections, and President Bush carried the district with 57 percent of the vote 2004.

The only announced Republican candidate so far is state Sen. Steve Austria, who currently holds the same legislative district that Hobson did when he was a state lawmaker.

“While no one can ever replace Dave Hobson in Congress, I believe that my service in the Ohio Legislature and in leadership positions over the past nine years has provided me with a great training ground to begin my campaign for U.S. Congress,” Austria said in his announcement Monday.

According to Austria, the two men have been friends for 26 years. Hobson is supporting Austria’s campaign.

“I think Dave Hobson has been a father figure to me, and he’s given me good advice throughout the years,” Austria said. “He attended my wedding, he attended my father’s funeral, we have a very close personal relationship as well.”

According to Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Randy Borntrager, the state party is in talks with candidates to run for the district, which he points out went 58 percent for Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in 2006. Borntrager named Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly (D) as someone considering a bid for the seat.

“We’re looking for candidates who can raise the resources to win,” said Borntrager. “We’ll have a decent shot there, if we find the right candidate.”

Nonetheless, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) said in a statement that Republicans expect to keep the seat.

“Ohio’s 7th Congressional District is a strong Republican seat that will continue to elect candidates that fight to keep taxes low, the economy strong and the nation secure,” he said. “We will be working with local activists and party leaders to send a candidate that fights for those same values back to Congress in 2008.”

Hobson’s announcement marks the third Republican retirement in the state for 2008. Ohio GOP Reps. Ralph Regula and Deborah Pryce announced their retirements already this cycle, though both are in districts that are considered more competitive for Democrats than the 7th.

Meanwhile back in Washington, D.C., a fellow Buckeye, Minority Leader John Boehner (R), praised his close friend and colleague.

“After serving together in the Ohio state Legislature, Dave and I came to Congress in 1991 and have remained close ever since,” Boehner said. “Our Congressional districts border one another, so we’ve literally worked side-by-side on many of our state’s most important issues for the past 16 years.”

Another of of his Congressional allies, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), called Hobson a “great mentor to me personally when I first came to Washington.” Pryce praised Hobson as a “thoughtful and deliberative lawmaker,” even calling him “Uncle Dave.”

“Congressman Hobson’s institutional know-how cannot be matched or replicated,” Pryce said in a statement. “While he was a passionate and ferocious advocate for his constituents, all of Ohio benefited from his understanding of good government and his ability to provide for it.”

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