In Ohio, Kaptur led Kucinich in primary after redistricting
In Ohio, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur led 52 to 44 percent with 53 percent of the votes counted in a re-election bid that pitted her against longtime friend and longtime lawmaker Dennis Kucinich.
The much-watched race drew national attention as the two congressional veterans were forced by redistricting to fight for their political lives.
Ms. Kaptur led Mr. Kucinich 56 percent to 45 percent in Lorain, close to his home — a bad sign for the former Cleveland mayor, who made a name for himself nationally after two presidential bids.
Meanwhile, in the Republican primary race for the District 9 seat, Steven Krause led Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher 74 to 26 percent.
State Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican, easily won his U.S. Senate primary bid to face off against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown in November.
The Kaptur-kucinich battle for the new district along the state’s northern border was the first and one of the most intriguing of some 13 House contests pitting incumbents against incumbents as a result of redistricting after the 2010 census.
In seven districts, two sitting Democrats will be running against one another, while four primaries will pit Republican incumbents. Two general- election races in Ohio and Iowa will feature a sitting Republican and sitting Democrat running in the same redrawn district.
As polls closed at 7:30 p.m., Mr. Kucinich’s supporters huddled inside a deli in Cleveland while Ms. Kaptur’s contingent planned a watch-night party at a Toledo-area union hall.
Early in the day, celebrities tweeted support for Mr. Kucinich. “We cannot lose him,” music impresario Russell Simmons said. “We need you,” added actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. Mr. Kucinich also received support from NARAL, which tweeted that he was the only pro-choice candidate in the race.
Speculation raged on Twitter about whether Mr. Kucinich might make a run as a Green Party candidate for president or mount a campaign run in Washington state if he lost his District 9 seat in Ohio.
The KapturKucinich contest upset many in Ohio’s Democratic hierarchy, pitting two wellknown and experienced liberal lawmakers against each other, thus guaranteeing that one will not be returning to Washington. The state lost two seats in redistricting, with the Gop-drafted map putting the two incumbents in the same new district.
Ms. Kaptur, 65, joined the House of Representatives in 1983, six years after Mr. Kucinich was first elected.
Both have drawn on famous friends for endorsements, with actor Tom Hanks and former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole endorsing Ms. Kaptur, while country music icon Willie Nelson was one of a number of celebrities taking to the road to raise money for Mr. Kucinich.
Although the two lawmakers have been friends, in recent weeks the election turned increasingly nasty, with sparring about voting records, the war in Iraq and jobs.
The winner of the contest likely will be heavily favored in November against the Republican challenger. Among those seeking the GOP nomination were well-known Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, and Steven Krause, an auctioneer from Huron.
Mr. Kucinich, whose former district encapsulated much of Cleveland, has a storied history there. He was dubbed the “boy mayor” after taking office at age 31. During his time in Washington, he has raised his profile as an outspoken progressive and two-time presidential candidate with Hollywood friends and a national image.
The more low-key Ms. Kaptur has touted herself as a leader deeply engaged in her district with clout as one of the senior Democrats on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. She argued while campaigning that Mr. Kucinich’s “focus has wandered” and she ran ads attempting to link him with a former Cuyahoga County commissioner on trial on federal racketeering charges.
Mr. Kucinich dubbed her ads as “Swift-boating” tactics, as each side sought to play up differences in personal style given their similar voting records.
Ms. Kaptur had a base in her old district in Toledo, while Mr. Kucinich ran stronger in his native Cleveland. The primary battle centered on swing voters in the center of the new district around the city of Lorain, which was not in either lawmaker’s old district.
The attack advertising was fueled in part by super PAC money from outside the state, highlighting the national attention the race has drawn in a presidential election year.