Outspoken former Democratic congressman Jim Traficant, who served time in federal prison for corruption, has fought his way back onto the Nov. 2 ballot to again run for a U.S. House seat — this time as an independent.
The Trumbull County elections board ruled Wednesday that Traficant, noted for his distinctive toupee and 1960s-style pants, had qualified for the ballot in northeast Ohio's 17th district with 2,154 valid petition signatures, 11 more than required.
Director Kelly Pallante said other county elections boards in the district would be notified to place Traficant's name on the ballot. Traficant will face off against a former aide, four-term Democrat Tim Ryan, and Republican Jim Graham.
Traficant represented the Youngstown area for nearly two decades before he was convicted in 2002 of racketeering and bribery. He was known in Congress for his wild hairstyle, bell-bottom pants and one-minute floor speeches punctuated with the "Star Trek" catch phrase: "Beam me up."
Traficant was kicked off the ballot in July after elections officials disqualified more than 1,000 signatures on his petition to run. Released from prison nearly a year ago, he spent the spring and summer months giving campaign-like speeches at tea party events throughout Ohio.
But on Wednesday, the newly minted candidate said he had no plans to campaign with the tea party, a populist movement opposing the Washington, D.C., political establishment.
"I don't know what that status is of the tea party," he said. "They look like they've joined the Republicans at this point."
Traficant also said that he hasn't raised any money to finance his campaign and doesn't know if he has enough popular support to win.
"I've got no money," he said. "They've got me painted as Darth Vader."
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