With his wife, Elizabeth, at his side, U.S. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Cleveland… (Amy Sancetta / Associated…)
In the other major Ohio election of Super Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich appeared headed for defeat to fellow Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the two of them forced to run against each other because of redistricting. With about 78% of the votes counted, Kaptur led Kucinich, 58% to 38%.
On the Republican side, Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, held a narrow lead for the GOP nomination in the district.
Speaking to supporters at her Toledo headquarters, Kaptur thanked, “the people of our region that now stretches across the economic powerhouse of Ohio from Toledo, to Sandusky, to Lorain, to Cleveland.”
“This is not only the economic powerhouse of Ohio, it’s the democratic powerhouse of Ohio. Just bring those Republicans and we’re ready,” she added.
The primary was the first pitting two Democrat incumbents against each other after the redrawing of congressional district boundaries. Republicans in the Ohio Legislature controlled redistricting, and corralled the state’s Democrats into four districts.
The new 9th Congressional District on the Lake Erie shorefront contains about 47% of the Toledo electorate Kaptur has represented since 1983, as well as 13% from another district, according to an analysis by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The new lines forced Kucinich, a former Cleveland mayor who has represented that area in Congress since 1997, to campaign in less familiar territory.
With the district split between the two representatives’ old strongholds, the race proved difficult to call.
Kucinich and Kaptur share broadly similar progressive positions on many issues, but their primary battle became increasingly bitter. When it was rumored that Kucinich was looking for an easier seat to win, possibly in Washington state, Kaptur ran radio ads comparing him to NBA star LeBron James, the Akron native who infamously ditched the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat.