Several candidates have expressed interest in Congressional seat
Ohio Democrats and Republicans say they are setting aside politics to respectfully fill the vacant seat of late U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor, who died last week after falling down stairs in his Arlington, Va. townhouse.
Candidates are already lining up to run for Gillmor's seat.
Gov. Ted Strickland announced Friday afternoon that a special election for Gillmor's Fifth District congressional seat will take place Dec. 11.
The governor's office said there will be a primary election Nov. 6 if necessary.
The winner will serve Gillmor's remaining term but face a new election in November 2008.
Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey said politics have nothing to do with the date the governor chose for the election.
"The governor wanted to balance the need for the constituents of the Fifth District to have a representative in Congress while also allowing enough time to run a smooth and professional special election," Dailey said.
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said the governor discussed setting the election date with Ohio Democrats and Republicans.
"It was the governor's decision to make," he said. "I don't think it's a problem."
Thus far Republicans Bob Latta, an Ohio state House member, and Steve Buehrer, an Ohio state senator, have expressed interest in running for Gillmor's seat, Bennett said.
"We believe that's a pretty strong Republican district," he said.
"We will field a number of great candidates in the primary and we feel that district will remain in Republican hands."
The Associated Press reported Friday that Democrat Robin Weinrauch of Napoleon, who lost to Gillmor in 2004 and 2006, plans to run again and that other Republicans considering a run include state Sen. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green and Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown, a former Gillmor staffer.
The Ohio Democratic Party did not return calls for comment Friday.
Gillmor's body lay in state Tuesday, at the Columbus Statehouse Rotunda.
The accomplished congressman was found dead by two members of his staff at about 11:10 a.m. Sept. 5, in the foyer of his Arlington Va. townhouse.
An autopsy revealed significant head injuries and with no sign of foul play, investigators determined Gillmor fell down the stairs of his apartment.
Gillmor was 68.