Ted Strickland lost to Republican Rep. William Harsha in 1976 and 1978 in the 6th District. In 1980, he lost to Harsha's former aide, Republican Bob McEwen, who got 55 percent of the vote compared to Strickland's 45 percent. In 1992, Strickland came back to win the seat with 51 percent of the vote, defeating McEwen, who had been implicated in the House banking scandal.
In 1994, Strickland lost his re-election bid with 49 percent of the vote to Republican Frank Cremeans. He gained his seat back, defeating Cremeans in 1996 with 51 percent of the vote. Strickland was re-elected in 1998, defeating Republican Lt. Gov. Nancy Hollister with 57 percent of the vote.
He was re-elected in 2000 with 58 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Michael Azinger, and in 2002 with 60 percent of the vote, defeating ex-Columbiana County Commission president Mike Halleck. He earned 83 percent of the vote to win the March 2, 2004, primary for the 6th District.