Kaptur & Kucinich draw another primary opponent


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Graham Veysey at the Old Ohio City Firehouse
  • Graham Veysey at the Old Ohio City Firehouse

With Ohio's congressional primary filing deadline yesterday — assuming that district map and the primary calendar stay as they are now given the challenge presented by the drive to repeal the map — we can get a clearer look at what these races might look like. As expected, congressman Dennis Kucinich and congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Toledo have both filed to run in the new 9th district which sticks a piece of Toledo in with a piece of Cuyahoga County and links the two with a string of Lake Erie islands, beaches, bait shops, and boat storage yards.

Unexpectedly, 29-year-old Clevelander Graham Veysey has also filed petitions to run in the Democratic primary. Although some party insiders at last night’s county Democratic executive committee meeting were scratching their heads and wondering who he is, he’s not a lightweight Joe the Plumber type (Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher has filed to run in the district’s Republican primary).

A native Clevelander, Veysey is a media producer who has a company called North Water Partners. (Among his recent projects was a video presentation for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party’s annual dinner last winter). He was the project coordinator for the 2010 launch of the Ohio City Farm, and he’s one of the founders of the Cleveland Coalition, a civic organization of young movers and shakers formed last year to facilitate public discussion about issues like government transparency and the impact of the new casino on the city. He was also a field organizer for the 2008 Obama campaign, so his good Democrat credentials are in order.

He also recently purchased an old fire station on West 29th Street, which he’s turned into Cowork Cleveland, a membership shared workspace.

Veysey says he’s not yet ready to talk about what’s motivating his run and what his campaign plans are because of the uncertainty about what the district might look like.

“Any campaign starts as a conversation with the people you represent,” he says. “I want to have this conversation once the lines are drawn and we know what the district looks like. We should have known the districts last summer and be talking about things that matter like putting people back to work.”

He gives some hint to his priorities when he points out that Congress has a 9 % approval rating, saying, “It’s a shame we as a society have lost faith in government. To me this is more about a civic mission than political ambition.”

And he suggests that Kucinich and Kaptur should not write off his filing as a whim.

“I’m serious about running,” he says. “If I decide to move forward, it won’t be a fringe campaign. It will be well-coordinated.” — Anastasia Pantsios

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