Tomorrow, one of the nastier primary races in recent memory will come to an end.
Nope, not the Republican presidential race. (That may drag on for eternity.) Ohio will be the first state to hold a congressional primary, which means an end to the vicious fight between Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich, two Democrats who both currently hold office. (A third Democrat, Graham Veysey, is also running in what's likely to be a distant third.)
After the 2010 Census numbers were in, Ohio lost two congressional seats. The GOP-controlled legislature decided to lump two of the most union-friendly representatives together in one district: Kaptur, from Toledo, and Kucinich, from Cleveland. Both are consistently pro-union, with the same high rating from the powerful United Auto Workers. The unions, by and large, are staying out of the race rather than choosing between the two. However, each campaign does have the the support of a super PAC. The Ohio district favors Democrats, and it's likely that the Dem who wins Tuesday will head back to Washington (though they may have to face "Joe the Plumber" first.)
With similar policy positions and what looks like will be a close race, the two camps have decided to spend their time tearing each other apart. The race has been brutal, even by America's political standards.
Initially, the campaigns focused on their opponent's record. There was Kaptur's ad claiming Kucinich had voted against money for new manufacturing jobs. Turned out some of those votes were against military spending, a big issue for the anti-war Kucinich who's painting Kaptur as a shill for the military industry.
Kucinich fired back with an ad accusing Kaptur of pushing for more war spending. The ad ended with the line "Vote for Dennis. he works for you, not war profiteers." The ad also contained a line wondering if "facts don't matter" in Toledo politics. Kaptur argued it was disrespectful to constituents.
As The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, Kaptur took to the airwaves to link Kucinich with a county commissioner on trial for corruption. (Kucinich had entered a statement in the congressional record for the commissioner on his birthday—eleven years ago.) Meanwhile, the pro-Kucinich super PAC, Campaign for Primary Accountability, criticized Kaptur for owning a condo in DC worth almost half a million dollars.
When Kaptur emerged as a likely pick for ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, a powerful position that would give her district added clout, Kucinich argued she'd be a terrible pick who would benefit war profiteers.
Kaptur, the longest serving female member of Congress, has served a decade longer than Kucinich, but Kucinich has earned national attention with his two long-shot bids for president. The man who once pushed for a "Department of Peace" is also hedging his bets. His team hasn't ruled out a run for an open seat in Washington state should he lose Tuesday.
Not shockingly, Kaptur ran a negative ad about the possibility.