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2012 House Campaign: Liberal Titan Dennis Kucinich Bites the Dust in Ohio

Posted on the 07 March 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
2012 House campaign: Liberal titan Dennis Kucinich bites the dust in Ohio

Dennis Kucinich. Photo credit: Cheshire County Democrats

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who won a national following among liberals in two colorful but unsuccessful runs for president (2004 and 2008), has been defeated by fellow Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the longest-serving female member of the House. The loss in the fiercely contested incumbent-versus-incumbent race leaves staunch liberal Kucinich’s political future in question. 65-year-old Kucinich, who attracted a series of celebrities including hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons to campaign on his behalf, first entered politics in 1969 and won the Cleveland mayorship at just 31.

Kucinich and Kaptur faced each other because Ohio lost two congressional districts as part of this year’s redistricting process. Republicans, who control Ohio’s government, drew them into the same district. Meanwhile in the Republican primary, Samuel Wurzelbacher, who gained fame after John McCain’s presidential campaign promoted him as “Joe the Plumber,” defeated auctioneer Steve Kraus in Ohio’s Ninth Congressional District.

Ugly campaign. ”As in many races between incumbents of the same party, Ms. Kaptur and Mr. Kucinich share many positions, so the campaign turned in large part on personal issues,” noted The Wall Street Journal.“Ms. Kaptur said Mr. Kucinich had become more interested in attracting national attention than representing the people of Ohio. In recent days, her campaign ran radio ads suggesting Mr. Kucinich would abandon the Cleveland area just as the Cleveland Browns football team and basketball star LeBron James did. The Kucinich campaign accused Ms. Kaptur’s operation of stealing its bright yellow ‘Dennis!’ yard lawn signs, which her campaign denied.” Despite the loss, the newspaper suggested that Kucinich might yet live to fight another political day. It noted that Kucinich has visited Washington State, “prompting speculation that he might run for Congress from there, and his campaign has declined to rule out that option. It would be a highly unusual move, but Washington leans Democratic and there is an open congressional seat in a Seattle-area district.”

Kucinich congratulated Kaptur but said she “ran a media campaign in the Cleveland media market that was utterly lacking in integrity.”

House loses a vocal opponent of American wars. “Kucinich’s defeat means the House will lose one of its most colorful characters, as well as one of the most vocal opponents to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said The Washington Post. The newspaper interpreted the result as a canny victory for Ohio Republicans: “Ohio lost two seats thanks to lagging population growth, and Republicans took advantage of their control of the process to force Democrats into tough races. While Kucinich is far better known nationally, the demographics of the new barbell-shaped district favored Kaptur. Republicans drew a seat that took 47 percent of Kaptur’s Toledo-based district and 40 percent of Kucinich’s Cleveland-based territory.”

Kucinich was always vulnerable, may rise again. “Kucinich had long been seen as a likely casualty of redistricting,” observed Politico. “With Ohio losing two seats in line-drawing, the Ohio Democrat began alerting supporters over a year ago that Republicans were likely to target him.” Politico said the “congressman’s career in the House may not be over, however. During an interview with POLITICO last week, Andy Juniewicz, Kucinich’s longtime spokesman and political strategist, refused to knock down repeated questions over whether the congressman would run for reelection in Washington state. Kucinich would have time to decide whether to run there: Washington’s filing deadline isn’t until May 18. Three of the state’s 10 congressional seats are vacant this year.”

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