Sitting members of Congress don’t generally lose primary fights, but in Ohio last night, two House incumbents lost.
The first was Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D), a liberal firebrand, who found himself the victim of an unkind redistricting process.
In a primary faceoff between two veteran Democratic incumbents, voters in Ohio delivered a victory to Representative Marcy Kaptur, a progressive from Toledo, over Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, leaving him without a seat in Congress for the first time in 16 years.
Mr. Kucinich conceded just past midnight Wednesday. With nearly 85 percent of the vote counted, Ms. Kaptur led Mr. Kucinich, her colleague and frequent ally in the House, by about 24 points in the race to represent Ohio’s recently redrawn Ninth Congressional District.
Kaptur will face Samuel Wurzelbacher, also known as Republican media personality “Joe the Plumber,” in November.
We probably haven’t seen the last of Kucinich, though. When Kaptur accused the congressman of possibly running outside of Ohio if he lost yesterday’s primary, Kucinich did not rule out that possibility. He’s reportedly considered running in the state of Washington, which has a May 18 primary filing deadline.
Kucinich, it’s worth noting, has no meaningful connection to the state of Washington, and has never lived there.
More surprising than Kucinich’s defeat, however, was Rep. Jean Schmidt losing her re-election bid in a Republican primary to podiatrist Brad Wenstrup, who has never held elected office. Oddly enough, the race wasn’t especially close – with nearly all of the precincts reporting, Wenstrup won by about six points.
It marked an unceremonious end to a troubled congressional career. Schmidt is probably best known for having lashed out at Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a decorated war hero, as a “coward” because he backed a troop-redeployment strategy for Iraq in 2005. She then proceeded to lie about the source of her remark, and in an especially sad display, characterize herself as a victim.
What’s more, in 2009, Schmidt was recorded telling a birther activist, “I agree with you, but the courts don’t.”