Previewing Ohio's House Race Primaries
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated the time that polls close. 7:30 is the time that polls close.
On Tuesday in Ohio, most of the focus will be on the matchup at the top of the GOP ticket between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. But don't overlook the undercard, as the Buckeye State will also play host to the first batch of 2012 House primaries. Here's what to watch when the polls close at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow:
Ohio's 9th District: This is the headliner, pitting Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich against each other in a new, merged district. Kaptur represented about 47 percent of the district in her old constituency, compared to 39 percent for Kucinich, but the real issue in the race has been the former friends' argument over who's a better advocate for area Democrat.
Kaptur says that she's taken better care of the district by bringing home federal dollars from her Appropriations seat, and Kucinich has argued that his pressure on the Democratic Party from the left does the most good for Ohioans. It's unlikely to filter down to the local level, but the recent news of Rep. Norm Dicks's, D-Wash., retirement (Kaptur is next in line to become ranking member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, though she is not guaranteed the post) followed the same pattern. Kaptur says it would be important for Ohio to have the top Democrat on the committee; Kucinich says Kaptur has disqualified herself ideologically from taking a leadership role in the party.
Ohio's 3rd District: Though Ohio lost two congressional seats, resulting in two merged seats, it also created a new Democratic seat centered in Columbus in order to make surrounding Republican districts more safe. Four Democrats are battling for the nomination, but the leading contenders are former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy and the former leader of Ohio's House Democrats, Joyce Beatty. Beatty started out far behind Kilroy, but she narrowed the gap according to internal polls after spending over $90,000 in media buys in the first two weeks of February, while Kilroy was not on the air. Both candidates are running as liberals, with Kilroy emphasizing her votes for President Obama's agenda. She voted for all the major planks of Obama's agenda while representing a marginal district.