LORAIN, Ohio -- U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) gathered endorsements from elected city officials in Lorain on Sunday, staking a claim to what can be called the swing county of the newly drawn 9th Congressional District.
A series of elected city officials took turns describing their choice of Miss Kaptur over their closer neighbor, Clevelander Dennis Kucinich, in practical terms that focused on their hopes for resurrecting this struggling industrial city along Lake Erie.
"She is by far the most qualified candidate. She's more knowledgeable about our needs," Karen Shawver, the elected city treasurer, said about Miss Kaptur. "She just has a practical and no-nonsense way of dealing with the issues. Lorain is looking for any way to turn the economic corner."
Miss Kaptur, Mr. Kucinich, and Cleveland businessman Graham Veysey are competing for the Democratic nomination to represent the 9th District. The winner goes on to face the winner of the Republican primary election in November.
Northern Lorain County is the only part of the district that neither Miss Kaptur nor Mr. Kucinich has represented. However, Miss Kaptur is known for representing the southern part of Lorain County since 2002, several local officials said.
Endorsers included Mayor Chase Ritenauer, the city's elected auditor, treasurer, and law director, and eight of the 11 city council members.
The city of 68,000 people has been in an economic funk since the departure of large steel and auto manufacturing businesses within the last decade. Broadway, the city's main street, is dotted with vacant stores.
Several said they were counting on Miss Kaptur's clout as the second-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee to bring federal dollars to Lorain.
Mr. Ritenauer said, "I look at Congresswoman Kaptur as someone who puts pragmatism over politics, someone who puts policy over politics. She understands a lot of the issues that are plaguing cities like Lorain. Her position on the appropriations committee is certainly beneficial. This woman is going to be a true advocate for the city of Lorain."
In her speech to the crowd, which included some Democratic elected county officials, Miss Kaptur highlighted projects she has worked on along Lake Erie.
She said she obtained federal support for programs at Lorain County Community College, highlighted her intent to reform the North American Free Trade Agreement, and said she would focus on bringing defense projects to the district as well as railroad transportation.
Miss Kaptur said the Ohio Republicans constructed a "Democratic powerhouse" in creating the district that takes in important parts of Cuyahoga and Lucas counties and the communities in between.
She promised to fight the leasing of the Ohio Turnpike, which drew applause from her listeners.
The event was in Miss Kaptur's Lorain headquarters, a city-owned building which city council voted by ordinance last week to lease to her for $1,500 a month through the primary election. Mr. Kucinich is renting privately owned space in the same block of Broadway. He declined yesterday to comment on Miss Kaptur's endorsements.
City Councilman Dan Given, a member of council for 18 years, said, "I've watched Marcy conduct herself in her position. I've also watched Mr. Kucinich do the same thing. She has a broader base of support in Congress. I think she isn't as polarizing," Mr. Given said.
"Dennis has shown me he focused on one area, it's always been Cleveland," Mr. Given said. He said Mr. Kucinich fought efforts by Lorain to bring light passenger rail to Lorain and to widen I-90 because of the perceived negative impact it would have on western Cuyahoga County, where his political base is.
Council President Joel Arredondo said, "We have two good candidates, … [but] we have the best candidate in the room today. Her track record is excellent. When you're No. 2 on appropriations you're there for a reason."
City Law Director Pat Riley said Lorain is "attempting to shake off a very heavy coat of rust that we've carried a long time. We need a partner in D.C." He said her opposition over the years to the North American Free Trade Agreement and her support of the 2010 health-care law are in line with Lorain's needs.
Not joining in the speeches but among the spectators was Sheffield Village Mayor John Hunter who said, "Dennis is a good man. We just feel Marcy is the better representative of Lorain County. We don't want to be a suburb of Cleveland, don't want to be a suburb of Toledo. Marcy's represented us the last eight years, in the southern part of the county."
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.