They're two beloved figures in Ohio politics who have become national figures for their party. And by next year, there will be only one in Congress.
Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich are two of at least 20 House representatives—mostly on the Democratic side—who have been forced, through redistricting, to run in partisan primaries against fellow members of Congress.
Consider it one of the side benefits of controlling the redistricting process—aside from reducing the other party's number of seats in Congress, you also get to sit back and watch some of their big names drain away time and money in fights which ultimately hurt their party.
Republicans, who controlled the redistricting process across most of the electoral map following their sweep in the 2010 elections, have the edge this year. But they are still looking at four likely intra-party matchups of their own.
Earlier this week, freshman Rep. Ben Quayle, son of vice president Dan Quayle, announced he would run against fellow freshman Rep. David Schweikert, a well-respected long-time Arizona state senator who impressed his party last year by knocking out incumbent Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell.
On Thursday, long-serving Florida Republican Rep. John Mica announced he would run in Florida's 6th District, likely setting up a race against Rep. Sandy Adams, who was elected in 2010.
Democrats, meanwhile, are facing at least six such matchups. Many, such as the race between Kaptur and Kucinich, and bound to attract national attention, but are in relatively safe regions for the Democrats. Hugging the Lake Erie coastline, Ohio's new 9th District, approved by the Republican-controlled state commission, stretches from Toledo to Cleveland, which are reliably Democratic districts. But pitting Kaptur—the longest serving woman in the House—against Kucinich, who has raised his national profile with presidential runs in 2004 and 2008, is bound to create fireworks. Already, the hits have begun, with Kaptur campaign manager Steve Fought implying that Kucinich is a "showhorse."
"It's a problem every redistricting cycle," says one GOP strategist. "It definitely does drain away money."
In Pennsylvania's 12th District, Rep. Mark Critz, the former district director for Keystone state legend Jack Murtha, will face off against Rep. Jason Altmire, a rising star who won his seat in 2006. The winner will have to emerge from the primary wreckage in a tough general election matchup in a district which is regarded as a likely toss-up in most analyses.
Democrats will also face races against incumbents in California, Michigan and New Jersey, while Republicans will see such races in Illinois, Louisiana and Florida.
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