Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) survived a tough primary challenge over Democratic gadfly Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who was forced into the same district after the GOP-controlled legislature redrew the borders.
The newly arranged 9th District extended 120 miles along Lake Erie and packed both Kaptur’s home base of Toledo into its western end and Kucinich’s home base of Cuyahoga in the Cleveland area on the East. Kaptur had more of her old district however, and rode huge margins the Toledo area to handily defeat Kucinich. The two candidates, among the most recognizable Democrats in the state, had over 70 years of political experience between them.
Despite friendly relations as neighboring Democratic lawmakers for the last 15 years, Kaptur and Kucinich proved rough campaigners as both ran negative ads. Kucinich accused Kaptur of warmongering by voting for military spending bills despite her opposition to the Iraq War, Kaptur accused Kucinich of embarrassing the party with fringe views and supporting an indicted Cleveland politician. A super PAC run by a conservative Houston businessman parachuted into the race with ads attacking Kaptur for owning a house in Washington, D.C.
The race is the first of a number this year pitting incumbent lawmakers of the same party against each other thanks to the loss of seats to the census and redistricting process in various states.
“After a difficult race, the voters of Ohio’s 9th District have made their decision about the Democratic slate,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “We thank Congressman Kucinich for his 16 years of service to the people of Ohio, and we look forward to Congresswoman Kaptur continuing her service to Ohio in the next Congress.”
Kucinich earned a national following with his quirky brand of hardcore liberalism, running for president twice on a platform that included marijuana legalization and the enactment of a “Department of Peace.” But, much like his soulmate on the right, Ron Paul, his ideological purity made it tough for him to influence legislation at times since he often opposed even his own party’s top priorities from the left at the outset. He may not be done, however: reports have long suggested he may run for Congress in Washington state.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.