Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friendship on the ropes as Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich fight for political survival: Analysis

Time to drop the pretense. Whatever hope U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur had of remaining friendly during their closely watched primary fight is gone.

When it became apparent last fall that Republican mapmakers would draw the Democratic allies into one congressional district, they cast themselves as reluctant rivals in a race that could end either one's political career.

They said all the right things then. But who didn't see this coming?

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blue-collar roots guide Marcy Kaptur's folksy -- and occasionally fiery -- career in Congress

This story was reported and written with Plain Dealer Washington Bureau reporter Sabrina Eaton

Marcy Kaptur was in desperate need of dough.

Without a quick infusion of cash 30 years ago, her underdog bid to unseat a Republican congressman would have been dangerously close to sacrificial lamb territory. So she shared with her advisers her big idea for a fundraiser: a bake sale.

"We all laughed," said Jim Ruvolo, then the chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party and, until that moment, perhaps the biggest believer in Kaptur's fledgling campaign. "We said, 'C'mon, Marcy. We need real money.' "

Kaptur and her supporters churned out cakes, cookies and pies, including many of the pastries beloved in Toledo's Polish, Hungarian and other ethnic neighborhoods. When the goodies were gone, Kaptur had banked about $10,000.

"We all shut up after that," Ruvolo said.

Kaptur won that 1982 race with 58 percent of the vote. Fifteen terms in Congress later, bake sales are a staple of her money-raising efforts. They also are a key to understanding Kaptur as she introduces herself to Cleveland-area voters in a reconfigured district where she is pitted against longtime friend and Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Longtime friends Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur travel new-look campaign trail as rivals

Around Cleveland and its West Side suburbs, a Dennis Kucinich yard sign is a pronouncement of familiarity and exuberance: "DENNIS!" scribbled rakishly in black against a bright, banana-peel yellow background.

But head north on Ohio 4 into Sandusky, and a less-presumptive branding is afoot.

"KUCINICH" the signs read, in bold block letters that create a solemn look.

The difference is telling. Kucinich, a longtime congressman from Cleveland and twice a long-shot candidate for president, is not on a first-name basis with voters here.

Sixty miles and five highway interchanges east, the same is true for Marcy Kaptur.

The longtime congresswoman from Toledo is about to hold a "Meet Marcy" event at the Brook Park branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. As a dozen curious residents gather in the Story Room, an elderly woman asks: "Is she the one who's running against Dennis?"

Yes, she is.

Democratic heavyweights in their respective hometowns, Kucinich and Kaptur are fighting for political survival in each other's back yards this winter. Redistricting has merged a chunk of his base with a large piece of hers, setting up a March 6 primary battle between friends.

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Newcomer Graham Veysey touts youth in underdog bid against Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Dennis Kucinich has the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party and country music star Willie Nelson behind his campaign.

Marcy Kaptur has the Lorain mayor and much of the Toledo political establishment.

Graham Veysey has Dent and Lobo from the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky. Maybe.

But when you're an upstart candidate and the third wheel in a congressional primary that features Kucinich and Kaptur, two long-entrenched incumbents thrown into battle against each other because of redistricting, "maybe" is not nothing. It's a sign of encouragement.

"Congress is broken," Veysey says, invariably, to Dent, to Lobo and to anyone else whose hand he can shake in his long-shot bid for the 9th District seat. He passes out literature with a bold logo -- "VZ" -- intended to help voters pronounce his unfamiliar name. He tells them about historically low approval numbers, about partisan gridlock and about the need for fresh faces.

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