OHIO

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will soon end one decades-long po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

“Sadly, but not sur­pris­ingly, these two po­lit­i­cal vet­er­ans are do­ing what they need to do to win this pri­mary. You go neg­a­tive be­cause it tends to get your par­ti­sans to vote for you and drives mod­er­ates and in­de­pen­dents out,” said Tom Sut­ton, chair­man of the po­lit­i­cal science de­part­ment at Bald­win-wal­lace Univer­sity in Berea, Ohio.

“For Democrats in Ohio, this is the only race in town. That makes it es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing,” he said. “And I think this one is still way too close to call.”

No re­cent poll num­bers lend a clue to who’s on top. The elec­torate num­bers fa­vor Ms. Kap­tur, who has about 90,000 more vot­ers from her pre­vi­ous dis­trict than Mr. Kucinich does in the newly drawn dis­trict, Mr. Sut­ton said. But when look­ing at reg­is­tered Democrats now in the new dis­trict, the can­di­dates re­main about even, mak­ing prog­nos­ti­cat­ing a prob­lem for pun­dits and po­lit­i­cal watch­ers, some of whom be­moan the loss of ei­ther of these vet­er­ans who have served a to­tal of 42 years in Con­gress.

“She has stand­ing [in Con­gress]. She’s very well-loved in her dis­trict,” Mr. Sut­ton said of Ms. Kap­tur.

“Kucinich has this im­age of be­ing more of a lone wolf, some­one who has been on the picket lines, in pub­lic protests fight­ing for work­ers,” along with more of a na­tional name be­cause of his two pres­i­den­tial runs, he said.

In re­cent weeks, how­ever, the cam­paign’s tone has soured. Mr. Kucinich’s camp has sniped that his cam­paign signs have been stolen, while Ms. Kap­tur has at­tempted to link her op­po­nent to a for­mer Cuya­hoga County com­mis­sioner who is on trial on fed­eral cor­rup­tion charges. A tele­vi­sion ad funded by a su­per PAC also ques­tions Ms. Kap­tur’s own­er­ship of a Wash­ing­ton, D.C., condo.

“It’s gone from two old friends run­ning against one another be­cause they don’t have a choice, to a level of po­lit­i­cal neg­a­tiv­ity that has been sharp,” Mr. Sut­ton said. “A lot of it is two can­di­dates try­ing to dis­tin­guish them­selves from one another. I think it’s a style that peo­ple will be vot­ing on.”

Ohio, with its Repub­li­can gov­er­nor, Repub­li­can-led Gen­eral Assem­bly and a spate of bal­lot ini­tia­tives last fall that en­er­gized vot­ers, re­mains bat­tle­ground ter­ri­tory in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. But whether that en­thu­si­asm trans­fers to races mov­ing ahead re­mains un­clear, said Paul Beck, a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at Ohio State Univer­sity.

“I think there is a lot of anger among Democrats, cer­tainly with union Democrats, and a feel­ing that there’s no place to voice that anger in the pri­mary,” he said. “But in the gen­eral elec­tion, they will turn out to vote against Repub­li­cans.”

He doubts that Pres­i­dent Obama will have the sup­port he did in 2008, and said the Buck­eye State will re­turn as a real bat­tle­ground for pres­i­den­tial con­tenders come Novem­ber.

“Six months ago, I would have said Obama was go­ing to have trou­ble win­ning Ohio, but I think that has changed,” Mr. Beck said. “I think he has the mo­men­tum in Ohio. I think [Mitt] Romney would be the strong­est nom­i­nee against Obama here and [Rick] San­to­rum would not do well.”

Money con­tin­ues to pour into Ohio for the U.S. Se­nate race that pits vet­eran in­cum­bent Sher­rod Brown, the Demo­crat, against Ohio Trea­surer Josh Man­del, the Repub­li­can.

“I think this is go­ing to be a very neg­a­tive cam­paign,” Mr. Beck pre­dicts of the Se­nate con­test, which he said also will be well-fi­nanced. “I think it’s go­ing to be a very hotly con­tested race that is prob­a­bly go­ing to turn in the end on how well Obama does in Ohio.”

Mr. Beck said Mr. Man­del has spent a lot of money at­tack­ing Mr. Brown as a lib­eral who is out of step with Ohio, while Mr. Brown has noted that Mr. Man­del has served only one year of his term as state trea­surer, sug­gest­ing that he is too po­lit­i­cally am­bi­tious.

“I think Sher­rod Brown is go­ing to win this race,” Mr. Beck said. “Sher­rod Brown has been around for a while. He also has been able to po­si­tion him­self as a can­di­date who sticks up for com­mon peo­ple in Ohio in a way Man­del is go­ing to have a hard time demon­strat­ing.”

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