House & Senate Races


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

For all the focus on the Republican presidential primary in Ohio yesterday, there's also news from congressional races there. Two members of Congress in Ohio faced primary challenges and were defeated. Four-term Republican congresswoman Jean Schmidt lost to an Iraq War veteran named Brad Wenstrup.

BLOCK: On the Democratic side, Dennis Kucinich lost to a fellow member of Congress, Marcy Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in the House. Their districts had been redrawn, forcing them to run against each other.

NPR's Sonari Glinton looks back at Kucinich's career - eight terms in the House and, of course, a couple of campaigns for the presidency.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Congressman Dennis Kucinich lost what had become a bitter race against his colleague in Congress, Marcy Kaptur, and he went down swinging.


REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I would like be able to congratulate congresswoman Kaptur. But I do have to say that she ran a campaign in the Cleveland media market that was utterly lacking in integrity.

GLINTON: Kucinich is no stranger to defeat - or for that matter, victory. He was elected to the Cleveland City Council when he was 23. In 1977, he was elected mayor of Cleveland, the youngest chief executive of a major U.S. city. They called him the boy mayor.

MIKE ROBERTS: That was an exciting and big thing in Cleveland - until he actually got in office.

GLINTON: Mike Roberts is a reporter who's been covering Cleveland for almost 50 years.

ROBERTS: He had his, you know, around him, the people he brought into City Hall were inexperienced, young people. There were constant clashes with the media. And the city was just torn asunder.

GLINTON: Kucinich was thrown out of office after two years. In and around all that was sort of a lost period where Kucinich moved to Los Angeles, lived with Shirley MacLaine, became a radio host. He eventually returned home, won re-election to the Cleveland City Council and then the Ohio legislature.

And in 1996, he was elected to the House of Representatives, where he immediately became one of the most liberal members of Congress. Kucinich fashioned himself a champion of the little guy. Here he is, speaking out against the Wall Street bailout.


KUCINICH: This is too much money in too short a time, going to too few people while too many questions remain unanswered.

GLINTON: And he was famously opposed to the war in Iraq.


KUCINICH: It is imperative that Congress do the one thing the Constitution of the United States provides for. Congress must cut off future war funds.

GLINTON: It was on the heels of that speech that Kucinich launched the second of two unsuccessful bids for president. That race brought us one of the weirdest moments in presidential debate history - so far. Here's the late Tim Russert.


TIM RUSSERT: The godmother of your daughter, Shirley MacLaine, writes in her new book that you sighted a UFO over her home in Washington state.


GLINTON: Now, according to MacLaine's book, it was a silent, hovering, triangular-shaped object that Kucinich supposedly felt a connection to, and heard directions in his mind.


RUSSERT: Did you see a UFO?


KUCINICH: I did. And the rest of the account...


KUCINICH: Hold - I didn't - it was unidentified flying object, OK? It's like, it's unidentified. I saw something.

GLINTON: The reporter Mike Roberts warns against writing a political obituary for Dennis Kucinich. Roberts has known the congressman since Kucinich was an 18-year-old copy boy at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He points out that losing isn't the strangest or worst thing to happen to the lifelong politician. And he says, quote: He'll be back. Definitely.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

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