Third times the charm for local man’s journey to Congress

(WKBN) — Lou Lyras said he can win, and that if he didn’t think so he wouldn’t be in the race. But Lyras is a Democrat who realizes what he’s up against — that beating six-term Republican Congressman Bill Johnson in a predominately Republican district won’t be easy.

On Lyras’ conference table sat a tub of Double Bubble, he loves bubble gum. Lyras would also love to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This is something that was important to me,” said Lyras.

Yesterday Lyras won the Democrat primary for the 6th district house seat giving him the unenviable task of facing Bill Johnson in Nov.

“And I know I could win the general election. Everybody’s going to say you can’t,” said Lyras.

Lyras is 71. He’s one of Campbell’s many bridge painters — his company Corcon is in Coitsville Township. He’s also a partner in Youngstown’s Penguin City Brewing Company. He describes himself as a liberal.

“I was always pro-choice which is very important now, LGBTQ very important,” said Lyras.

He also believes in fiscal responsibility.

“When I’m painting a gigantic bridge in New York or we’re negotiating with the trades, ironworkers and painters, you think of the money,” said Lyras.

Twice before Lyras ran for Congress, losing as a Democrat to Tim Ryan and as a Republican to Christina Hagan.

“The first time, the second time these were all funded by me, and even this one,” said Lyras.

But Bill Johnson already has $1.3 million of campaign money. Lyras said he’ll need $3 million to win and for that, he’ll need help from the national or state democratic party.

“I’m counting on it, yes, of course, I am, because we have a chance now to flip this district,” said Lyras.

The new 6th district now includes all of Mahoning County and the counties south along the Ohio River to Marietta. It’s territory Lyras said he knows well.

“I worked in those power plants. I worked in those steel mills when I was 17 and 18 years old as an apprentice, and then later when I had my own company I still worked down there,” said Lyras.

Lyras said he’s looking forward to discussing the issues with Bill Johnson and he hopes Johnson will debate him.