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In Ohio, Kaptur Beats Kucinich; Schmidt Upset By Wenstrup

Rep. Dennis Kucinich thanks his wife, Elizabeth, during his concession speech, in Cleveland on Tuesday.
Amy Sancetta
Rep. Dennis Kucinich thanks his wife, Elizabeth, during his concession speech, in Cleveland on Tuesday.

The race between Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, two veteran Ohio Democrats who were redistricted into the same congressional district, ended badly for Kucinich, who lost to his fellow House Democrat.

Meanwhile, the House Republican Conference will lose Rep. Jean Schmidt, who was defeated by Brad Wenstrup, a podiatrist and Iraq War veteran, in an upset.

Kucinich's defeat represents the end of a remarkable political career, at least for the time being, which started when he was elected to the Cleveland City Council at age 23.

He later became the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city when he was elected Cleveland's chief executive in 1977 — only to be turned out of office two years later by voters in the financially strapped city. So Kucinich has seen political defeat before.

One of the House's most liberal members, Kucinich, in his eighth term, raised his national profile with presidential races in 2004 and 2008 during which he was a passionate critic of the Bush administration's war on terrorism and the Iraq War, among other issues.

But he also was known for marrying a woman who was 31 years his junior. And in 2011 he became the butt of jokes when he filed a lawsuit against the House cafeteria over an olive pit he said damaged a tooth.

Schmidt, in her third term, didn't have Kucinich's high profile. One time she did make news was when, on the House floor, she told the late Rep. John Murtha — who opposed the Iraq War — that Marines don't "cut and run." She apparently didn't realize that Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, was a Marine veteran. That caused a stir.

She also made headlines in 2008 when she was injured after being hit by a car while out for a run.

Wenstrup, who defeated Schmidt in Tuesday's Republican primary, had the support of Tea Party activists. Schmidt also was one of a dozen incumbents of both parties targeted by a superPAC called .

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.
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