updated 8/18/2006 9:56:22 AM ET 2006-08-18T13:56:22

Eight candidates beat the deadline to vie for scandal-scarred Rep. Bob Ney's congressional seat in a special election next month, including two men who lost races in the spring primary and the Republican state lawmaker Ney wants to take his place.

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If their petitions are approved, the eight will compete Sept. 14 to replace Ney on the November ballot in a race drawing widespread attention as Democrats try to retake control of the U.S. House.

Ney dropped his re-election campaign last week, citing the strain of an intensifying corruption investigation that has focused for months on his dealings with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Ney denies wrongdoing and has not been charged.

Ney's choice
The six-term Republican congressman, along with House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, asked state Sen. Joy Padgett to run.

Joining her on the ballot - provided each filed at least 50 valid signatures of registered Republican voters from the 18th Congressional District - will be Ralph Applegate, who finished last in the May 2 Democratic primary, and James Brodbelt Harris, who received less than one-third of the vote against Ney in the Republican primary.

Also filing petitions by Thursday's deadline were Dover Mayor Rick Homrighausen; Holmes County Commissioner Rick Feickert; John Bennett, Ney's Cambridge-based coordinator of veterans affairs; Gregory Zelenitz of Belmont County; and Samuel Firman of Coshocton County.

The winner will face Democrat Zack Space, Dover's law director, in the Nov. 7 general election.

Battle begins
Harris, a financial analyst, came out firing at Padgett, suggesting her personal and corporate bankruptcies make her unfit to help set the federal budget.

"Bankruptcy is not a badge of honor and it is an ethical and professional disqualification from representing Ohio Republicans and taxpayers in Congress," he said.

Padgett was treasurer of an office supply Company in 2005 when it filed for federal bankruptcy protection and defaulted on a Small Business Administration loan. Padgett guaranteed $837,000, then filed for personal bankruptcy protection in June on that debt.

She defended the bankruptcy as a function of Ohio's bad economy.

Voters, she said, "will say, 'This woman understands what the economy is like.'"

Homrighausen said he has shown he can draw votes in his Democratic-leaning part of the district and plans a campaign targeting the cost of gas and electricity and the need for alternative fuels.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Brian Rothenberg said the party would try to keep Padgett off the ballot under election law rules prohibiting candidates from running in both federal and state elections. Republicans don't believe it will keep Padgett out of the primary.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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