CLEVELAND -- George Voinovich, former U.S. senator, Ohio governor, and Cleveland mayor, says he won't officially endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary for a reconfigured congressional district that stretches between Cleveland and Toledo.
After all, he is a Republican.
But he says he is serving as a "reference" for Toledo's Marcy Kaptur and is telling anyone who asks him that she would be a better representative for the area than Cleveland's Dennis Kucinich.
The two longtime Democratic incumbent Congress members are in a primary battle because they were corralled into the same district by a redrawn legislative map that cuts two of Ohio's congressional seats.
Mr. Voinovich said he'd prefer that a Republican occupy the seat, "but the bottom line is that it is a Democratic district because they made it a Democratic district and I believe whoever comes out of the Democratic primary is going to win because it is so lopsided."
Mr. Voinovich, who defeated Mr. Kucinich in Cleveland's 1979 mayoral race, said he considers Mr. Kucinich a friend but thinks Miss Kaptur would better represent the Cleveland area in Congress "based on her past performance and my relationship with her on various projects."
Mr. Voinovich, who now works on public administration initiatives at Cleveland State and Ohio universities, said members of the Cleveland community have been calling him to ask "what I know about her."
Although he described Miss Kaptur as "a bit too liberal for my point of view," Mr. Voinovich said he has worked with her for many years on statewide issues and projects to benefit northwest Ohio.
He said the urban and Great Lakes port issues that Miss Kaptur handled in Toledo "are almost exactly the same" as those in the Cleveland area and that her seniority and committee assignments in Congress "are a lot more valuable to the Cleveland area" than the committees Mr. Kucinich is on.
Miss Kaptur is a member of the Budget and Appropriations committees, which oversee federal spending. Mr. Kucinich is on the Education and Workforce and the Oversight and Government Reform committees.
"Kaptur is a solid member of Congress with great seniority," said Mr. Voinovich, who lives in the congressional district represented by Rep. Marcia Fudge.