There’s no question that Toledo Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is a champion of the auto industry, as befits a veteran Democrat with a big Jeep plant in her backyard — the one that President Obama visited last year.
And people far outside Ohio know Dennis Kucinich for the presidential campaign that made him a character on Saturday Night Live, as well as his tenure as the “boy mayor” of Cleveland.
Tomorrow, one of them won’t be running for another term in Congress. Kaptur and Kucinich are among 11 sets of Congressional representatives who are facing off against each other in primary races this year. Seven involve Democrats; four involve Republicans, according to Roll Call.
The reason is redistricting. Ohio lost two congressional seats because its population dropped in the last U.S. Census, one of them Kucinich’s 10th district, which was primarily Cleveland.
Kaptur’s 9th district, which encompassed mainly Toledo, was re-drawn to include an eastern slice of Kucinich’s old district.
The 9th district is now a strip along Lake Erie that runs from Lucas County on the western end to Lorain County to the east.
If he hoped to stay in office, Kucinich had to head west to campaign in what is primarily Kaptur’s district.
Despite his national fame, the 9th district is unfamiliar territory for Kucinich, while Kaptur has thrived there in her nearly 30 years in the House. A number of pundits are predicting he will lose in today’s contest.
The situation creates unease among Democratic party loyalists, who have to choose between two members of Congress who are well-known in Ohio.
To be sure, their personalities are different. ““Dennis is John Belushi in ‘Animal House,’ ” Dennis Eckart, a former Democratic congressman from Cleveland, told The New York Times. “Marcy is the librarian who tells folks to be quiet and get their homework done.”
The pair have stretched in their debates to describe the differences between them. According to Roll Call, Kucinich accused Kaptur’s campaign of stealing his yard signs. Kaptur accused Kucinich of belittling Toledo, because of a radio advertisement that proclaimed “maybe in Toledo politics, facts don’t matter.”