CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARY

Democratic hopefuls storm Toledo for votes

Kucinich goes to Scott; Kaptur walks door to door

3/4/2012
BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Graham Veysey campaigns in front of the main U.S. Post office in Toledo with cutouts of his opponents, Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur, behind him.
Graham Veysey campaigns in front of the main U.S. Post office in Toledo with cutouts of his opponents, Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur, behind him.

All three 9th Congressional District candidates campaigned in Toledo on Saturday to encourage voters to get out and support them in Tuesday's primary election.

Dennis Kucinich brought national recording industry leader Russell Simmons to Scott High School, where he promised empowerment for minorities, while Marcy Kaptur walked door to door in Point Place.

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Graham Veysey highlighted lost jobs at the downtown mail processing facility in his campaign against the two incumbents.

Mr. Kucinich, the U.S. representative from the 10th District in Cuyahoga County, is running against Miss Kaptur of Toledo, the representative from the current 9th Congressional District, because they were drawn into the same newly remapped 9th Congressional District.

Point Place resident Scott Billock, left, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur.  U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur campaigns in the Point Place section of Toledo as she goes door-to-door for the newly created 9th Congressional District in Toledo, Ohio on Saturday.
Point Place resident Scott Billock, left, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur campaigns in the Point Place section of Toledo as she goes door-to-door for the newly created 9th Congressional District in Toledo, Ohio on Saturday.

The congressional districts were realigned to make them equal in population and to reduce the state's total congressional districts from 18 to 16 because of the shift of national population to the South and West.

Mr. Veysey, a Cleveland video entrepreneur, also is running in his first bid for public office.

"We have campaigned across this district with a message of jobs for all, education for all, health care for all, housing for all, retirement security for all, and peace," Mr. Kucinich said in a high-energy speech to a crowd of about 50 that turned out to see him and Mr. Simmons in Scott High School's field house.

"And the way that we deliver it is to stop the wars and take care of priorities here at home."

Mr. Simmons, 54, co-founder of the hip-hop music label Def Jam Records and several clothing lines, said he supported both of Mr. Kucinich's runs for president. Joining them was Mr. Kucinich's wife, Elizabeth Kucinich.

"When I think about communities of color and underserved communities in this country, there's no better champion in the entire Congress than Congressman Kucinich," Mr. Simmons said.

"He's been in the forefront of every civil rights issue, every economic issue, every environmental issue, every issue a spiritual being would take on, he's taken on," Mr. Simmons said.

Mr. Simmons blasted the "prison industrial complex" that he said is biased against people of color and which he accused of paying politicians to keep the laws on the books.

"At the root of our problems of economic inequality is the money that corrupts our politicians," Mr. Simmons said, adding that Mr. Kucinich is backing a constitutional amendment to "get the money out of politics."

Mr. Kucinich delved into the local controversy involving the Economic Opportunity Planning Association, which is being threatened with loss of management of the Head Start educational program to Toledo Public Schools.

He said next week he will intervene in a lawsuit filed by Head Start of Ohio in U.S. District Court in Washington to prevent the transfer of the program.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaks at a rally at Scott High School. He vowed to take action to prevent the transfer of Toledo’s Head Start program to a new operator.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaks at a rally at Scott High School. He vowed to take action to prevent the transfer of Toledo’s Head Start program to a new operator.

Some in Toledo's black community say as many as 300 jobs now held by blacks in Toledo's central city will be lost if TPS takes over the program.

Mr. Kucinich blamed the situation on the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which he said created a rule and applied it retroactively to the planning association, throwing the agency into competition for funding.

"If we're talking about community empowerment, we ought to be talking about letting people in the community hold onto the power that they have," Mr. Kucinich said.

"I may not be from Toledo, but I sure know what's going on in Toledo," Mr. Kucinich said.

"If I was the congressman, I can promise you that no one would be messing with your program dollars."

He also highlighted his endorsement by the Northwest Ohio Minority Contractors Association. Organization President Jackie Ruffin said his organization has complained to Miss Kaptur about minority contractors not getting work in the federally funded Kent Branch Library reconstruction.

Mr. Veysey spoke in front of the U.S. Postal Service mail processing facility near downtown at 435 S. St. Clair St., which is slated to be shut down to save the post office money, putting an estimated 350 jobs at stake.

He stood with life-sized photo placards of Miss Kaptur and Mr. Kucinich, while blaming Representative Kaptur especially for the nation's $15 trillion debt.

"The Appropriations and Budget Committees on which she sits were major factors in getting America in to our current fiscal crisis," Mr. Veysey said.

"As the two incumbents continue to talk about which Hollywood stars support them, my campaign is interested in talking about the issues that matter," he said.

"I promise to make sure that the next economic recovery doesn't bypass us again like the last one," Mr. Veysey said.

He plans to be back in Toledo before the election and also planned to work straight through from Monday morning until the close of polls Tuesday at 7 p.m.

"We've got the energy and wherewithal to represent the 9th Congressional District," Mr. Veysey said.

Miss Kaptur walked door to door in Point Place on 116th Street, one of several stops she planned for the day.

"We've done everything humanly possible to put a campaign together in eight weeks," Miss Kaptur said, noting the hurdle of introducing herself to what she estimated to be 360,000 people living in new areas of the district in northern Lorain County and Cuyahoga County.

"We still have to remind people the primary is in March, not later this year. We have to let people know there's competition," Miss Kaptur said, adding she's never had primary opposition.

Early primaries are not unusual in Ohio. The 2008 primary was two days earlier, on March 4.

Miss Kaptur said she felt very good, but not overconfident about the election on Tuesday, citing her endorsements by major newspapers in the district and by Democratic elected officials in all the counties except Cuyahoga.

She said Mr. Kucinich's backing by the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party was not unanimous.

Miss Kaptur declined to comment directly on Mr. Kucinich's plan to intervene in the Head Start lawsuit.

She said the local community should find a way to include EOPA in the final outcome, and said efforts should be made to protect the livelihoods of the current Head Start workers.

Miss Kaptur also called for the University of Toledo and Neighborhood Health Association to get involved. "My goal is not to create division but collaboration. I don't think disunity helps us federally," she said. "The administration is interested in seeing a show of strength and unity."

In response to complaints of the minority contractors in connection with the Kent Branch Library reconstruction, she said her role was to secure the funding, but that the contracting is up to the local entity that was in charge, and they had to follow federal contracting rules.

"We have no control over that," Miss Kaptur said.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.