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Kaptur beats Kucinich in Ohio Democrats' battle, will face 'Joe the Plumber'

After a redistricting forced a primary race between two progressive Democrats, Rep. Marcy Kaptur defeated Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Kaptur phones into MSNBC to discuss with Rachel Maddow the race and the national political environment.

CLEVELAND -- Veteran U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur defeated Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Tuesday in a closely watched Democratic battle in a newly drawn congressional district linking Toledo and Cleveland along the Lake Erie shoreline.

She will face Samuel Wurzelbacher, who became known as "Joe the Plumber" for expressing working-class concerns about taxes to then-candidate Barack Obama during a stop in the region in 2008.


The redrawing of the 9th District meant at least one of the Democrats' political careers representing northern Ohio in Congress would end Tuesday night.

Kucinich conceded defeat shortly after midnight, accusing Kaptur of running "a campaign lacking integrity, filled with false truths."

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Kaptur told MSNBC that her campaign was a "real marathon" partly benefitting from labor interested in "leveling the international playing field" of trade.  

Amy Sancetta / AP

With his wife Elizabeth at his side, right, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland addresses supporters Tuesday at Rubin's Restaurant and Deli in Cleveland and concedes defeat in his race against U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

Kaptur led Kucinich in the Democratic primary by more nearly 10,000 votes with 96 percent of precincts counted.

On the Republican side of the race, Wurzelbacher defeated real estate agent Steve Kraus by about 400 votes.

The winner of the Democratic primary is favored to win in the fall. The newly drawn district connecting Cleveland to Toledo along the Lake Erie shore tilts toward Democrats, The Associated Press reported.

Kucinich spokesman Andy Juniewicz told Cleveland.com that absentee ballots showed what everyone expected: Kaptur won her home region of Lucas County, while Kucinich handily won Cuyahoga.

A congressional map drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature packed Democrats into four districts where they were left to fight among themselves. The map is redrawn every 10 years based on new population figures; Ohio lost two districts after the 2010 census.

Kucinich, an eight-term congressman known for a quirky style and zest for political combat since becoming Cleveland's "boy mayor" at age 31, is a two-time presidential candidate with a national following among progressives. Kucinich tried to have former President George W. Bush impeached over the Iraq war. Last summer, he flirted with running for an open House seat in Washington state, but opted to stay in Ohio.

Kaptur, in her 15th term, pitched herself as a workhorse able to deliver for Ohio as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

In South Toledo, voters in one precinct were given the wrong ballot. The Lucas County elections board said five people received ballots for the 5th Congressional District instead of the 9th District. Kaptur’s staff said up to 70 people received the wrong ballot.

The Toledo Blade reported late Tuesday that the Ohio Secretary of State’s office reversed an earlier decision and said residents could vote again.