With congressional elections a year and a half away, things are already heating up in Ohio’s 10th district, which encompasses the western half of Cuyahoga County.
The district’s current congressman, Dennis Kucinich, has been sounding an alarm for months about Republican-controlled redistricting, claiming he’s in their crosshairs and that they’re going to eliminate his district to get rid of him. He’s been saying he’ll stay in Congress even if he has to shop for a new district. While it sounded initially like he meant he’d move a few miles, he’s now issuing broad hints that he’d be willing to shop for a district anywhere in the country.
Last week he sent out an email saying:
“You may have heard some rumors over the past week, so I wanted to set the record straight with you: While I'm committed to representing the 10th District of Ohio, I will not rule out a run elsewhere should my district be eliminated or radically altered through redistricting. ... I've been approached by supporters across the country to explore options outside Ohio should redistricting force me out of my current district. Right now, my efforts and focus remain on representing my constituents in the 10th District and fighting for peace and justice, but as we plan for our movement's future, I will consider all of these ideas to keep our voice in Congress.”
Now Kucinich has drawn a formidable Republican challenger who lives in Lakewood and isn’t looking to relocate. Cuyahoga County Republican chairman Rob Frost has formally set up his campaign and stepped down from the county board of elections to prepare to run next year. He isn’t worried about the district disappearing from under him.
“I don’t think anything is clear enough for Dennis to know he won’t have a place to run in Ohio,” says Frost. “He’s making a lot of noise. That’s Dennis. We’re going to lose two seats in Ohio. I fully expect we’re going to lose one Democratic seat and one Republican seat. I expect you will see the west side of Cuyahoga make up the bulk of one district.”
If so, and Kucinich has been pulling a chicken-little act to raise money, it might not sit too well with some current constituents. In 2008, he drew four primary challengers, capitalizing on the annoyance of voters that after promising not to launch a second presidential campaign for 2008, he did just that — immediately after winning reelection to Congress in 2006.
“I intend to represent the area I grew up, where I was born at Deaconess Hospital,” says Frost. “We intend to stay here; we’re not looking at other states. If Dennis decides to leave because it’s gotten too hot here for him — or maybe the reception has gotten too cool — those are Dennis’ decisions.”
Meanwhile, Kucinich’s campaign office at West 118th and Lorain continues to operate, although a volunteer there said, with the zeal typical of a Kucinich supporter, “We’ll go wherever we have to to keep Dennis in Congress.” — Anastasia Pantsios