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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