Incumbency is a powerful asset in any political race, especially for the Congress. Combined with a history of hard work, broad vision, and committed constituent services, it can become virtually unbeatable.
Because U.S. Rep Marcy Kaptur encapsulates all these qualities, we have no hesitation about recommending her for an impressive 10th term representing Ohio's 9th Congressional District.
Her longevity in the U.S. House of Representatives makes her 80th most senior member in the 435-member body, the senior Democratic woman in the House, and the youngest woman to achieve that position. If Democrats take the House from the Republicans, a long shot, she is in line to chair the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development. That's impressive stuff.
She helped bring millions of federal dollars to the district recently by hooking up Toledo Public Schools with Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo, and she saw to it behind the scenes that money was there to fund the development of the Fallen Timbers historical site.
Looking ahead to a time of water scarcity in the not too distant future, she has also pushed successfully for a $3 million appropriation for a major watershed study involving waters flowing from Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana into Toledo toward the Great Lakes.
This year Ms. Kaptur has an aggressive opponent who is out working hard, and we salute him for that. Though he is politically inexperienced, Dwight Bryan, an osteopath who practices in South Toledo, says he has invested $30,000 of his own money to mount a vigorous campaign that focuses mainly on demands that Ms. Kaptur debate him. She has demurred, in part, because Dr. Bryan does not live in the district.
Though he should, legally he doesn't have to, and he points to his bird's-eye view of the district from his home across the Maumee in Perrysburg Township, and to the fact that his practice is in Toledo. Close, but no cigar. Still, agree with him or not, Dr. Bryan is out there, talking to whomever will listen, sporting a giant sign that bears his name near peak rush-hour traffic venues.
Even so, Ms. Kaptur won with 81 per cent of the vote last time, and two years before that, with 77 per cent. Her seat is about as safe as it gets given the rough and tumble volatility of congressional politics.
Dr. Bryan acknowledges the challenge he faces and embraces it, perhaps the better to position himself for another political bid in the future. His party may want to keep him in mind. He is bright and articulate, though a bit dependent on the Republican Party platform and agenda.
That detracts from the kind of independence we have admired in Ms. Kaptur, most recently when she took on the administration over NAFTA and trade with China.
Still, Dr. Bryan is a welcome presence in the campaign, especially with the GOP's record of giving Lucas County Democratic officeholders a free ride so much of the time.
Of the three congressional districts in this region, the 9th has offered up the strongest opposition, though underfinanced Democrat Dan Dickman is energetic in pursuing his grass-roots campaign against incumbent Rep. Michael G. Oxley in the 4th.
Rep. Paul Gillmor was first elected in the 5th District, which includes a big chunk of northwest Ohio, in 1988. He has been a solid, reliable, GOP vote in the Congress though his tenure has been unremarkable.
He is a shoo-in because Democrats on his turf are as weak and disorganized as Republicans in Lucas County have been. His lower than low-profile opponents, Democratic and minority parties combined, will hardly dent his victory margin.
Mr. Oxley has been in Congress a year longer than Ms. Kaptur, having been elected in a special election in 1981.
His district covers all or part of 11 counties directly south of Mr. Gillmor's 5th District, and while voters must think he is doing something for them, it is clear Mr. Oxley's life in Congress has provided him with plenty of amenities. He is known, if not as the king of congressional junketeers, then among the high fliers of the royal court.
It is pointless for us to endorse in either of these races. In the 5th the Democratic opponent joins third-party hopefuls, just below the horizon. In the 4th there's more vigor, but little hope.
In the 9th Ms. Kaptur has never taken her routinely easy victories for granted. Dr. Bryan's candidacy will assure that she doesn't this time either. Good for her, and good for him. A vigorous challenge is good for any officeholder.