Democrats Kucinich, Kaptur Face Off in Ohio House Primary

U.S. Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur, both Democrats, will run against each other for their party’s nomination next year to represent a reconfigured Ohio congressional district.

Kaptur’s current district includes Toledo and extends east toward Cleveland. Kucinich represents parts of Cleveland and its suburbs. Both filed papers today with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland to run in the March 6 primary to be the Democratic nominee in the redrawn district, the election board said.

Ohio’s number of House seats was reduced to 16 from 18 following the 2010 U.S. Census.

Kucinich, 65, said he would try to avoid attacks on his fellow Democrat.

“I am running on my merits, on what I’ve done, my stands for peace and social and economic justice,” he said in a telephone interview. “I am not proceeding from the standpoint of running against anyone.”

Kucinich, a vocal critic of U.S. and allied intervention in the Libyan civil war that toppled the late dictator Muammar Qaddafi, said he would stress his opposition to the Iraq war “long before others were willing to even talk about it.”

“Everything I said turned out to be right,” he said. “That has been my calling card in Congress.”

Former Mayor

First elected to the Cleveland City Council at age 23, Kucinich became the youngest elected mayor, at 31, of a major U.S. city in 1977.

Cleveland went into financial default when Kucinich refused bankers’ demands that he sell the city-owned power company and he was defeated for re-election.

He first won his House seat in 1996. In 2004 and 2008 he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination, promising to return the party to its pro-union roots.

Kaptur, 65, was first elected to the House in 1982. In a telephone interview today, she said she would stress her status as the second-most senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

“That seniority is very precious to Ohio” because it gives her the ability to help Ohio “modernize our ports, our railways, our airports,” she said.

As a member of the defense appropriations subcommittee, Kaptur said she has been a “voice” for “strong security.”

“I don’t think he has ever voted for a defense bill in his career,” Kaptur said of Kucinich.

New Boundaries

The redrawn 9th district stretches from the west side of Cleveland along Lake Erie to Toledo. Much of it is now part of Kaptur’s district.

She said she has represented four of the five counties in the new district, so “the people know me well” and “they know my record of service well.”

Kucinich said he likes his chances because the district includes “the heart of my political base.”

Another high-profile primary clash between two veteran Democratic House members is brewing in California as a result of redistricting. In an area that includes parts of Los Angeles and its suburbs, Representatives Howard Berman, a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Brad Sherman are headed toward a political collision course.

Sherman, 57, plans to run in the new 30th congressional district, where Berman has expressed his intent to run, said Scott Abrams, political director for Sherman’s campaign.

“Congressional districts have been redrawn and I’m preparing for a challenging race,” Berman, 70, says on his campaign website.

Gene Smith, Berman’s campaign spokeswoman, said the lawmaker is “definitely running” in the 30th district.

Berman was first elected in 1982, Sherman in 1996.

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