CUNA-Backed Kaptur Knocks off Kucinich
The only candidate with support from CULAC, CUNA's political action committee, who had a Super Tuesday contest won, knocking a longtime liberal icon out of the House of Representatives.
Democrat Marcy Kaptur, representing the currently drawn Ohio Ninth District, defeated fellow Democrat Dennis Kucinich for the seat representing the newly drawn Ohio Ninth District.
Kucinich, a former Cleveland mayor, has represented the current Tenth Congressional District since 1997. Kaptur is the longest-serving woman in the U.S. House, representing her Toledo-based district since 1983.
After Ohio lost one congressional seat due to the 2010 census, a Republican-dominated legislature redrew the district maps to pit the two long-term Democratic lawmakers against each other.
CULAC had contributed at least $5,000, the limit for a primary race, to Kaptur for the contest, according to Trey Hawkins, CUNA's vice president for political affairs.
CUNA's political staff said it was backing Kaptur because, while both had been supportive of credit unions, Kaptur had been more supportive.
“Kaptur has stepped out for credit unions on a number of issues,” explained Richard Gose, senior vice president for political affairs for CUNA.
The race pit Kucinich's national reputation for supporting liberal causes (he had been a presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008) versus Kaptur's larger base in the new district (CUNA staff cited reports that 47% of the new district came from Kaptur's Ninth and 34% from Kucinich's Tenth).
The race became steadily more shrill, according to media reports. Both local and national media outlets reported that Kaptur accused Kucinich of becoming more interested in attracting national attention than representing his Ohio constituents.
A local media outlet also noted that her campaign ran radio ads suggesting Kucinich would abandon the Cleveland area just as the Cleveland Browns football team and basketball star LeBron James did.
Media outlets also reported that Kucinich accused Kaptur supporters of stealing his bright yellow "Dennis!" yard lawn signs, a charge she denied, and that he criticized her for accepting donations from defense contractors.
Kaptur will face Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (aka Joe the Plumber) in November as Wurzelbacher barely won his primary contest against little-known auctioneer Steve Kraus.
Wurzelbacher came to national attention in October 2008 after he objected as Joe the Plumber to then-candidate Barack Obama's plan to let the Bush tax cuts expire for those making $250,000 or more. Subsequent reporting indicated that he did not have plumber's license and he later accused John McCain's presidential campaign of trying to “use” him in an election ploy.
Credit union trade groups had not taken a position on the two other Ohio congressional races with March 6 primaries. Ohio was the only state with legislative races at issue on that day.