The stage is set for an intense rematch in the 64th District state representative race, which could lead to a government spending spree in Trumbull County.
In 2006, Democrat Tom Letson defeated then-incumbent Republican Randy Law with 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent. That was one of the closest races for that seat in decades. One that ended closer was in 2004, when Law upset incumbent Democrat Daniel Sferra 54 percent to 46 percent.
Now it's Letson v. Law again. For a sneak preview of what to expect, let's look backward.
In 2004, Republicans poured more than $157,000 into helping Law beat Sferra. Most of it went into a last-minute media blitz. According to finance reports, the Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee spent $134,580 on media buys and $12,050 to produce the ads.
In an effort to keep the seat, Republicans bestowed upon Law state funding for myriad projects - nearly $1 million for Packard Music Hall; a $300,000 offset for Warren (the only city in the state to receive one) to escape a Local Government Fund cut; and money to study the feasibility of building a lodge at Mosquito Lake State Park among them.
And in 2006, State Rep. Chris Redfern, then-leader of the Democrats in the Ohio House, made regaining the 64th District seat his top target. Democrats went after Law's seat ''with a great deal of resources.''
If Republicans have an opportunity to pull another upset, and it appears they do, another expensive battle looms. Redistricting has shaped the district to include more northern and Republican-leaning townships and Letson's well-publicized tax problems could provide the GOP with ammunition.
Law was hurt recently, however, when independent candidate Cheryl Saffold, a Democratic councilwoman in Warren, was thrown off the ballot for lack of valid signatures on her petition. She would have taken votes from Letson.
With the state budget experiencing a surplus that could reach $500 million by campaign season, there is opportunity for Ohio's legislative leaders to ''buy'' votes in Trumbull County. Letson is among the Democrats who proposed a way to spend the money and Republicans are trying to stop the money from automatically going into a rainy day fund, as required by law.
Candidates often join the chorus of those who rail against government spending. That's not likely to happen here.