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Ohio Democrat may leave Congress for White House post

Hall won 83 percent of the vote during his last election, in November 2000.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Tony Hall, an independent-minded and locally popular Democrat from Ohio, may not run for re-election but instead take a "humanitarian job" with the White House, a congressional source said Thursday.

His decision may have ramifications beyond his home district. Whether Hall runs again could affect the political balance in the House of Representatives, where currently there are currently 221 Republicans, 212 Democrats and two independents.

Democrats were not likely to persuade Hall, a 12-term representative from Dayton who won 83 percent of the vote in the last election, to stay in his seat, the source said.

"Hall is a very independent guy who follows his own guidance," the source said. "He's been here 23 years and done a great deal. It's hard to make the case why a guy with his record of service needs to hang on."

Hall gained national fame in 1993 when he went on a much-publicized hunger strike to protest the abolition of a congressional committee on hunger. Hall, who is white, has also launched several efforts to make Congress formally apologize for slavery and recently worked to pass President Bush's faith-based initiative.

Though his redrawn congressional district contained a substantially higher number of registered Republicans than it once did, Hall was expected to win re-election handily. But his seat may be up for grabs if he takes one of several humanitarian-related positions that he's talked to the White House about in recent weeks.

Potential candidates began jockeying for Ohio's 3rd Congressional District seat more than a week ago, when the lawmaker hinted that he was considering leaving Congress while he was at a local media event.

Hall is expected to make an announcement before the February 21 filing deadline for the Democratic primary.




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