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James Traficant Files to Run for Congress as Independent

**FILE** Former U.S. Rep. James Traficant Jr. answers questions outside the federal courthouse on Feb. 8, 2002 in Cleveland. Traficant, expelled from Congress in 2002 after his bribery and racketeering conviction, is now dabbling in watercolors and acrylic rather than politics. He's passing the time by painting while serving eight years in federal prison . (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) AP

It's official: James A. Traficant Jr. is trying for a political comeback.

The former U.S. representative from Ohio, who was released from prison last year after serving seven years on bribery, racketeering and other charges, today filed petitions to run for Congress as an independent, according to the Associated Press.

Traficant, who served nine terms in Congress as a Democrat, is seeking victory in his old stomping grounds of northeast Ohio. He will challenge Democrat Tim Ryan, who won the seat over Traficant when Traficant attempted to win reelection from federal prison.

"I have been a Democrat all my life, and quite frankly I am disgusted with both parties," Traficant said on CNN in February. "... I see the Democrats are completely controlled by foreign interests and big lobbying money. The Republicans are too, but the Democrats more so."

In discussing a possible run in December, Traficant acknowledged he would have a hard time raising money, but he said he could overcome that disadvantage. He also said his conviction was politically motivated and that he is "a very bitter guy" who is seeking revenge against the "suckers" who helped put him in prison.

Traficant, who is 68, was released from prison in September of last year and now works as a talk radio host in Ohio. He was expelled from Congress for unethical conduct after his 2002 conviction, but is eligible to run again despite that conviction.

When Traficant was released, the Washington Post reported, about 1,000 people planned a "welcome home" dinner for him, and others wore t-shirts that read "Welcome Home Jimbo," suggesting he still has support in the Youngstown area he long represented.

In addition to his conviction for taking kickbacks and accepting bribes, the colorful Traficant, who wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, is known for his noteworthy hairstyle as well as his frequent "Star Trek" references.

"Maybe it's time money doesn't dictate an election," he said in discussing his filing today, according to the AP.