COLUMBUS — Veteran Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur defeated longtime Washington colleague Dennis Kucinich Tuesday in a bruising Ohio showdown made necessary by a newly drawn congressional map.
She will face the winner of the Republican primary — Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher, who became known as “Joe the Plumber” during the 2008 presidential campaign — in November.
Kaptur is in her 15th term representing the Toledo area. She ran a campaign that emphasized her record of bringing federal money and projects back to the state.
In a concession speech just past midnight, a bitter Kucinich described Kaptur’s campaign as “lacking in integrity, filled with false truths.”
“I hope this is not a representation of how she’ll run the district,” he said.
Kaptur did not respond to Kucinich’s criticism, but said in a statement said she will need his supporters, and those of another primary contender, Graham Veysey, in the fall.
“We will need them, and their supporters help to work for the betterment of all of northern Ohio,” she said
Kucinich is an eight-term congressman and two-time presidential candidate from Cleveland known for his quirky style and politically combative flair. Last summer, as Ohio’s redistricting process was under way, he had flirted with running for an open House seat in Washington state.
Districts are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population changes in the new census. Ohio’s lagging population growth caused the loss of two of its 18 congressional seats.
Whichever party controls a state legislature typically sets redistricting so that incumbents in the majority party are protected and minority party seats are put at risk.
Ohio Republicans drew just four of 16 districts that lean Democratic. The decision to snake a district along the Lake Erie shoreline linking the Democratic strongholds of Cleveland and Toledo resulted in the state’s lone intraparty contest between sitting House members.
“I knew full well that redistricting would cause some challenges,” Kucinich said early Wednesday. “From the beginning, I realized I was at a disadvantage, but the campaign made every effort to win.”
Kucinich and Kaptur have been friends for years, but their campaign took a negative turn.
Kaptur sought to link her rival to a former Cuyahoga County commissioner facing bribery and racketeering charges.
Kucinich aired campaign ads accusing Kaptur of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from defense contractors.
Wurzelbacher was thrust on the national scene during the 2008 campaign, gaining his nickname after expressing working-class concerns about taxes to then-candidate Barack Obama.