Okay, so picking a Republican for "Best Politician" is like naming the president of an HMO "Most Likely to Follow in the Footsteps of St. Francis." Which makes Jim Trakas all the more remarkable. Despite hailing from a party of psychos, and despite the GOP's success in turning Ohio into Louisiana: The Sequel, Trakas has managed to stay above the fray. The Independence state rep is bright and articulate, and he never dodges a tough question. He possesses a better command of state issues than anyone in the Northeast Ohio delegation (although an argument could be made for Senator Eric Fingerhut, D-Shaker Heights). More important, he's a straight shooter; the guy says what he thinks and comes equipped with the ammo to back it up. As chairman of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, he hasn't exactly made inroads here. Republicans remain as rare as fish that water-ski. But Trakas -- more businessman than a Katie-Bar-the-Door-the-Black-Helicopters-Are-Coming conservative -- provides a moderate counterbalance to the hillbillies downstate. And, word is, he knows how to party.