Dennis Kucinich Loses Congressional Seat to Marcy Kaptur Thanks to GOP Redistricting
Ohio's 9th district was redrawn by a Republican legislature reportedly working closely with Speaker of the House John Boehner (also an Ohio congressmember) specifically to take out a progressive leader. Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur were both members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, both leaders in the fight against the big banks--and their districts were combined to create a gerrymandered work of art that would guarantee at least one of them would join the ranks of the unemployed come Super Tuesday.
That turned out to be Kucinich, in a race that had turned nasty as the campaign wore on. In his concession speech, Kucinich said that Kaptur "ran a campaign lacking in integrity, filled with false truths."
"Now I would like to be able to congratulate Congresswoman Kaptur, but I do have to say that she ran a campaign in the Cleveland media market that was utterly lacking in integrity with false statements, half-truths and misrepresentations."
Kucinich,as I reported last month, faced an uphill battle in the race from the start--more of Kaptur's constituents were drawn into the new district than his, and before the district lines were final, he openly flirted with the idea of moving to Washington State to run for office there instead. That, combined with two presidential runs that sent him all over the country, left some Ohioans wondering if he was paying enough attention to their needs. Facing the longest-serving female member of Congress, who is known for her attention to her district (and ability to bring home the dollars), this proved too much to overcome.
It's not just anti-war activists who will mourn the loss of Kucinich, though. Kaptur may be the most prominent anti-choice female Democrat in the country, just as battles are heating up around the nation (including in Ohio, over a very persistent fetal heartbeat bill) over abortion, contraception, and the role of the Catholic Church. Kaptur supported Bart Stupak's threat to trash health care reform over abortion language, though she didn't go so far as to sign on with any of House Republicans' anti-choice bills or their attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.
Kaptur managed to hold on to nearly 95% of the votes in her home county, and siphon off nearly 25% in Kucinich's base in Cuyahoga. She won narrowly in Lorain, the "swing county" of the new district, taken out of Congresswoman Betty Sutton's district (which formerly was held by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, up for re-election this year as well). Sutton is challenging freshman Republican Jim Renacci for the 16th district.
It's of course too soon to know what Kucinich will do next, but it's a fair bet that he won't simply go away. Still, as Nick Martin of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party told AlterNet in February, the situation was going to result in a loss for Democrats either way. “This was the equivalent of electoral assassination, targeting a good progressive to be taken out, and the means by which they did this is with a pen.”