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Ohio: ‘Apprentice’ Star Hopes Voters Will Fire Schmidt

Surya Yalamanchili, a marketing executive who once appeared on the reality TV show “The Apprentice,— is running as an Independent in a Southern Ohio district held by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R).

“The overriding issue for this campaign is to get special interests out of the way and get individual people’s voices heard in government again,— said Yalamanchili, who is not accepting political action committee contributions.

Yalamanchili served as the director of marketing for LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking site, and before that as a brand manager at Procter & Gamble. He also has a background in technology and plans to blog every day during the campaign.

He appeared on the sixth season of “The Apprentice,— which aired in early 2007. He was “fired— by Donald Trump in the eighth week after his team lost a competition. Yalamanchili drew similarities between reality television and politics, which he said are both infused with “gotcha— moments, distortion and one-upmanship.

“Having been on a reality TV show and having been behind the scenes of it, it’s very representative of the current state of Democratic and Republican party politics,— he said.

Though every House Member affiliates with one of the two major parties, Yalamanchili said the political environment in 2010 will be conducive to Independent candidates because voters are yearning for change.

“I think they’re starting to realize that it’s not going to be found in the Democratic and Republican parties,— Yalamanchili said. “I think 2010 is really going to be the start of an independent movement.—

Yalamanchili is running in the 2nd district, which includes part of Cincinnati and some suburbs and rural territory east of the city. It has a Republican lean, having backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over Barack Obama (D) 59 percent to 40 percent in 2008. But Schmidt has had a shaky hold on the district during her 51-month tenure, and she’s being challenged in the GOP primary next spring by Mike Kilburn, a longtime county commissioner.

The Democratic field includes state Rep. Todd Book, who’s preferred by national party leaders, and David Krikorian, who won 18 percent of the vote as an Independent candidate in the 2008 election.

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