Voters in next month's Ohio primary will find that the boundaries of the major U.S. House seat in the Toledo area, the 9th District, have changed considerably. The district now stretches along the Lake Erie shoreline from Toledo all the way to Cleveland. In its new incarnation, longtime 9th District Democratic incumbent MARCY KAPTUR of Toledo clearly has earned renomination.
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A Republican-imposed reapportionment scheme forced Miss Kaptur, who has represented the 9th District for nearly 30 years, to run against another longtime Democratic lawmaker, Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland. Both incumbents have liberal voting records on a broad range of domestic and foreign issues, along with substantial support from organized labor.
Their differences are more apparent in matters of style. Miss Kaptur is more cautious in matters of party orthodoxy. Mr. Kucinich has tended to be more erratic, displaying a shoot-from-the-hip iconoclasm that sometimes has put him at odds with his party's leadership and diminished his effectiveness, as when he wondered aloud last year about moving to Washington state to run again.
In those parts of the 9th District that she now represents, and certainly in the Toledo area, Miss Kaptur is more of a known quantity than Mr. Kucinich. She has delivered for her constituents, amassing considerable seniority and influence -- she is the longest-serving woman in the House -- even though her party is in the minority.
Her pragmatic approach to politics, reflected in her high rank on the Appropriations Committee, seems better suited to meeting the immediate needs of the economically battered 9th District than Mr. Kucinich's more visionary outlook.
Miss Kaptur has been a hard-working and effective advocate of this city, this region, and area residents. She has used her position in Washington to help build northwest Ohio's alternative-energy industry and to pursue useful interests such as urban agriculture.
The other Democrat in the race, businessman and first-time candidate Graham Veysey of Cleveland, does not make an adequate case for displacing the incumbents. But he has useful ideas about economic development in the district and, at age 29, a seemingly bright career in politics if he chooses to pursue it. We hope to hear from him again.
For now, though, The Blade recommends MARCY KAPTUR in the 9th District's Democratic primary.
GOP state lawmakers who drew Ohio's new congressional map squeezed as many Democratic voters as they could into the 9th District, to make other seats more safely Republican. As a result, the winner of the district's Democratic primary will be the clear favorite in the November election.
Still, the district has a Republican primary. It matches Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher of Springfield Township, who has achieved national political celebrity since his spur-of-the-moment debate with Barack Obama during a local campaign stop in 2008, and Steven Kraus, an auctioneer and real estate agent from Huron. Both candidates are staunchly conservative on issues of taxation, federal regulation, and environmental policy, and would offer district voters a clear choice against the Democratic nominee.
But Mr. Wurzelbacher, because of his greater name recognition and capacity for fund-raising, is in a better position to offer a competitive challenge in the general-election campaign. The Blade recommends SAMUEL WURZELBACHER in the GOP primary.
5th District: In this northwest Ohio district, Republican incumbent Bob Latta of Bowling Green faces a GOP primary battle with Tea Party challenger Robert Wallis of Convoy.
Mr. Latta is endorsed by the Ohio Republican Party and has a healthy war chest. Mr. Wallis, a businessman who ran against Mr. Latta in 2010 and received less than 17 percent of the vote, has no major endorsements and little money.
He seems unlikely to do much better this time. BOB LATTA is the preferable choice for the Republican nomination.