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For First Time in 16 Years, Kucinich Loses His Seat

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 By Sabrina Tavernise, Truthout | Report
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In a primary faceoff between two veteran Democratic incumbents, voters in Ohio delivered a victory to Representative Marcy Kaptur, a progressive from Toledo, over Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, leaving him without a seat in Congress for the first time in 16 years.

Mr. Kucinich conceded just past midnight Wednesday. With nearly 85 percent of the vote counted, Ms. Kaptur led Mr. Kucinich, her colleague and frequent ally in the House, by about 24 points in the race to represent Ohio’s recently redrawn Ninth Congressional District. 

The outcome was largely expected. Mr. Kucinich, an antiwar populist from Cleveland who has run for president twice, lost his district when state lawmakers redrew the electoral map after Ohio, whose population has been dwindling, lost two Congressional seats last year. The new district — a skinny strip of land that covers parts of five counties from Cleveland to Toledo — contained more of Ms. Kaptur’s old territory than Mr. Kucinich’s, and Mr. Kucinich had been struggling to win over voters in areas beyond his traditional stronghold of Cleveland.

It is not clear whether Mr. Kucinich will try to run for public office somewhere else. After his district was eliminated last year, he visited Washington State to explore his options, though his spokesman, Andy Juniewicz, said that Mr. Kucinich had said he “never had any intention of leaving Cleveland.”

Most political analysts agreed that Mr. Kucinich would likely remain in the public sphere, even if he was not in elected office, either in a research group or as a television commentator.

“Dennis has this remarkable ability to persist,” said Dennis E. Eckart, a former Democratic congressman from Cleveland. “He will not go quietly into the good night.”

Ms. Kaptur is one of the longest-serving women in the House and has a powerful position as the No. 2 Democrat on the House appropriations committee. She stands to become the top Democrat on that committee when Norm Dicks of Washington retires.

One of the most common criticisms of Mr. Kucinich by local elected officials was that he focused more on national issues than local ones, and Mr. Eckart said that people in the district expected that to change with Ms. Kaptur, who was seen as a powerful advocate for her constituents.

“She is famously well connected on appropriations, and it will be worth tens of millions of dollars in a community that was once ranked as one of the poorest in the nation,” Mr. Eckart said. “Having someone like her going to bat for you is an advantage.”

Ms. Kaptur will face a general election race against Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber,” who announced his candidacy last year. The district, however, is heavily Democratic, and Ms. Kaptur is broadly expected to win.

This article, "For First Time in 16 Years, Kucinich Loses His Seat," originally appeared at the New York Times News Service.

Sabrina Tavernise

Sabrina Tavernise is a reporter for the New York Times

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For First Time in 16 Years, Kucinich Loses His Seat

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 By Sabrina Tavernise, Truthout | Report
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

In a primary faceoff between two veteran Democratic incumbents, voters in Ohio delivered a victory to Representative Marcy Kaptur, a progressive from Toledo, over Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, leaving him without a seat in Congress for the first time in 16 years.

Mr. Kucinich conceded just past midnight Wednesday. With nearly 85 percent of the vote counted, Ms. Kaptur led Mr. Kucinich, her colleague and frequent ally in the House, by about 24 points in the race to represent Ohio’s recently redrawn Ninth Congressional District. 

The outcome was largely expected. Mr. Kucinich, an antiwar populist from Cleveland who has run for president twice, lost his district when state lawmakers redrew the electoral map after Ohio, whose population has been dwindling, lost two Congressional seats last year. The new district — a skinny strip of land that covers parts of five counties from Cleveland to Toledo — contained more of Ms. Kaptur’s old territory than Mr. Kucinich’s, and Mr. Kucinich had been struggling to win over voters in areas beyond his traditional stronghold of Cleveland.

It is not clear whether Mr. Kucinich will try to run for public office somewhere else. After his district was eliminated last year, he visited Washington State to explore his options, though his spokesman, Andy Juniewicz, said that Mr. Kucinich had said he “never had any intention of leaving Cleveland.”

Most political analysts agreed that Mr. Kucinich would likely remain in the public sphere, even if he was not in elected office, either in a research group or as a television commentator.

“Dennis has this remarkable ability to persist,” said Dennis E. Eckart, a former Democratic congressman from Cleveland. “He will not go quietly into the good night.”

Ms. Kaptur is one of the longest-serving women in the House and has a powerful position as the No. 2 Democrat on the House appropriations committee. She stands to become the top Democrat on that committee when Norm Dicks of Washington retires.

One of the most common criticisms of Mr. Kucinich by local elected officials was that he focused more on national issues than local ones, and Mr. Eckart said that people in the district expected that to change with Ms. Kaptur, who was seen as a powerful advocate for her constituents.

“She is famously well connected on appropriations, and it will be worth tens of millions of dollars in a community that was once ranked as one of the poorest in the nation,” Mr. Eckart said. “Having someone like her going to bat for you is an advantage.”

Ms. Kaptur will face a general election race against Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber,” who announced his candidacy last year. The district, however, is heavily Democratic, and Ms. Kaptur is broadly expected to win.

This article, "For First Time in 16 Years, Kucinich Loses His Seat," originally appeared at the New York Times News Service.

Sabrina Tavernise

Sabrina Tavernise is a reporter for the New York Times