Kaptur wins primary in ‘powerhouse of a district’Written by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Ohio’s 9th District was radically altered, but Rep. Marcy Kaptur captured its votes, triumphing over fellow Rep. Dennis Kucinich on March 6.
“We just feel great gratitude; we feel elation; we feel a sense of completion of our campaign strategy we planned and executed, and I’m very pleased and I think we achieved our goals,” Kaptur told Toledo Free Press on March 7. The congresswoman, the senior-most woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been in office since 1983.
Kaptur will face Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, in the November election.
In the Democrats’ race to represent District 9, Kaptur received 56 percent of the district’s votes while Kucinich had about 40 percent, according to unofficial results. Documentary company owner Graham Veysey took 4 percent.
Lucas County’s love for Kaptur was apparent — she received 94 percent of county votes while Kucinich took 4 percent and Veysey took 2 percent.
Steve Fought, Kaptur’s campaign manager, said she beat Kucinich about 21-to-1 in Lucas County.
“Usually in the political world, if you defeat somebody 2-to-1, it’s a landslide and if it’s 3-to-1, it’s a historic landslide — 21-to-1 is an avalanche,” he said.
“There are fewer voters in a primary, but she overwhelmingly won them. It’s a testament to what a hard worker she is,” said Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara.
Kaptur also won Erie, Lorain and Ottawa counties. In Kucinich’s home turf of Cuyahoga County, he took 73 percent compared to Kaptur’s 24 percent and Veysey’s 3 percent.
The congresswoman said she was grateful for the support she received in Cuyahoga County.
“For those who are unfamiliar with us, we intend to work very hard to get to know them,” she said of her potential constituents.
Decreased population in Ohio resulted in the state losing two congressional districts. The newly drawn congressional map resulted in the massive northern district that includes Toledo and Cleveland. The 2011 Ohio Apportionment Board, made up of Republicans Gov. John Kasich, State Auditor Dave Yost, Secretary of State Jon Husted and State Senator Tom Niehaus and Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish, created the new map. Lucas County now includes two districts.
Kaptur said the shortened, unexpected campaign season was “almost a physical impossibility.”
“It creates another level of complexity in a job that’s already very difficult,” she added.
Victims of circumstance
Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins, who is working with Kaptur on the Veterans Administration medical facility, slated to open this fall, said of the redistricting, “[Kucinich and Kaptur] really are victims of a very unfair set of circumstances and that’s politics at its worst. They carved a congressional district in order to kill one of them.”
Kaptur remained largely optimistic about the size and span of her newly designed district. It includes superior arts, rail and transportation systems and the automotive industry, she said.
“This is a powerhouse of a district — they’ve given us the crown jewels of Ohio,” Kaptur said.
Kucinich congratulated Kaptur in his concession speech March 6, but referred to Kaptur’s campaign as “lacking in integrity, filled with false truths.”
In response to his claim, Kaptur said, “He ran a spirited camp. We did as well; I’m going to give him time for reflection.”
At press time, Kucinich had not reached out to Kaptur and his campaign had not returned calls from
Toledo Free Press.
Kaptur did have positive things to say about her former rival.
“He had very good constituent service; we pride ourselves on equal service in that regard,” she said.
To continue providing that level of service over a wide area, reconfiguration of her offices and staffing is necessary, Kaptur said, jokingly adding that she may need a Jet Ski.
But before buying any water transportation, Kaptur has to face Wurzelbacher in the fall.
Kaptur has some concerns about her new opponent. “[Wurzelbacher] doesn’t live in the district. I don’t actually know what he’s achieved for our area,” she said.
Steve Kraus, Wurzelbacher’s opponent in the primary, said he would support his former rival against Kaptur.
“I don’t think we can afford two more years of Marcy Kaptur or four more years of President Obama,” Kraus said.
Of Kaptur’s large-scale victory, he said, “[Kaptur] really crushed [Kucinich]. Marcy’s a very formidable opponent. She’s a smart woman; she’s been at this a long time. I was actually a little surprised. I was hoping Dennis would pull it off,”he said, adding, “Hats off to her.”
Back to work
Kaptur did not get much time to relish her victory — as of March 7, she was back in Washington, D.C., and scheduled to attend a major defense briefing March 8. She is also seeking a leadership position on the Appropriations Committee, she said.
Her win and potential chairing of that committee mean a lot to Lucas County, McNamara said. The new, larger district could also have positive implications for the area.
“We now have a bridge between these two communities that have more similarities than differences,” he said.
Before continuing on her busy schedule, Kaptur had this to say about her win: “It means that our region will still have a voice, despite the district getting larger, we will not lose our voice.”