COLUMBUS — His felony conviction barred him from the Ohio House but not the U.S. House, so Steve Kraus has announced he will seek the Republican nod to challenge U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur next year.
The 9th District stretches along Lake Erie shoreline from Toledo to East Cleveland. Miss Kaptur, who has been in Congress since 1983, was re-elected in 2014 with 68 percent of the vote.
Kraus said his campaign will focus on the same things he did during his short tenure in the House, energy independence, job creation, and clean water. But given his recent experience with the justice system, he said he’s adding exposure of public corruption to that list.
“What do you do when you fall off a horse? You get right back on,” he said. “I maintain my innocence. My surprise victory [for the Ohio House in 2014] took out the chairman of the Democratic Party and the incumbent representative, something nobody expected. I believe that [the conviction] was retribution for that.”
His appeal of his conviction is pending in the 6th District Court of Appeals.
Kraus narrowly upset incumbent Rep. Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island) to take the 89th District encompassing Ottawa and Erie counties last year. It had been in Democratic hands for decades.
However, the Sandusky Realtor and auctioneer was automatically removed after months in office after being convicted by an Ottawa County jury of felony theft for taking antiques from a Danbury Township home without the owner’s permission.
A felony conviction, however, does not bar a candidacy for Congress.
Kraus ran for the Republican congressional nomination in 2012 but lost a close race to Samuel (Joe the Plumber) Wurzelbacher, who went on to lose to Miss Kaptur.
“Should Mr. Kraus or any other candidate enter the Republican primary next year, that’s a matter for Republican primary voters to decide,” said Kaptur spokesman Steve Katich.
Mr. Redfern, who said Tuesday he will not seek a return to the Ohio House in next year’s election, said Miss Kaptur would “beat [Kraus] like a drum.”
“Leading Republican officials told me that they will work with the [Republican National Committee] to see that he lost in a primary,” Mr. Redfern said. “I think the gerrymandered maps created the Tea Party and were reflected in Steve Kraus. He is a reflection of the polarization of the Tea Party. He’s a convicted felon and bat crazy.”
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.
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