Huffpost Politics

Kucinich In Tough Congressional Battle In Ohio

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Dennis Kucinich, the liberal Ohio politician who made two failed White House campaigns, fought Tuesday in the Democratic primary to keep his seat against the toughest, best-financed challenger in his 12-year congressional career.

Although the presidential primary commanded most of the nation's attention, Kucinich's race was the best known congressional contest on ballots in Ohio and Texas.

Other races included three veterans of the Iraq war seeking congressional nominations in Ohio and a battle for the nomination to challenge Sen. John Cornyn in Texas. Voters in one Vermont community approved a measure calling for the arrest of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

For years, the 61-year-old Kucinich has won re-election by margins of up to 75 percent in a reliably Democratic district.

But after sensing early that Joe Cimperman was a formidable opponent, Kucinich abandoned his presidential campaign on Jan. 25, months earlier in the race than he did in 2004, when he also was polling in low one-digit numbers.

Joe Cimperman, a Cleveland City Council member and former Kucinich admirer, raised nearly $500,000 and landed high-profile endorsements from the mayor and the city's daily newspaper.

"Mr. Kucinich is not a congressman. He's a showman," said Cimperman, 37, who has belittled Kucinich's Hollywood ties and criticized congressional votes Kucinich missed during his presidential campaigns.

After leaving the White House race, Kucinich returned to his familiar fighting-for-you mantra to win renomination and landed a quick $700,000 in contributions.

"I'm not a patsy for business. I can't be bought," said Kucinich, an unrelenting opponent of the Iraq war.

With three other challengers on the ballot, Kucinich was expected to benefit from a divided anti-incumbent vote. North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O'Grady, anti-war activist Rosemary Palmer and former Peace Corps volunteer Barbara Ferris all have campaigned on much smaller budgets.

Elsewhere in Ohio, three veterans of the Iraq war sought congressional nominations.

Scott Radcliffe, who served two tours of duty as a platoon commander in Iraq, lost his bid to challenge a newly elected Republican in northwest Ohio.

Democratic state Sen. John Boccieri, an Air Force reservist who served in Iraq, won the nomination for the northeastern Ohio district being vacated by 18-term Republican Rep. Ralph Regula.

Another state senator and Iraq veteran, Army battalion commander Steve Stivers, won the nomination for the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce.

In Texas, voters were weighing nominations for the U.S. Senate, Congress, the state Legislature and other offices.

Four Democrats were competing for the chance to take on Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn, who easily defeated consultant Larry Kilgore and already has $7 million for the fall campaign.

State Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston, an Army National Guard lieutenant colonel who served in Afghanistan, was the best known and best funded Democrat, though he has less than $1 million with which to campaign against Cornyn.

In Houston, several Republicans battled for the nomination in the suddenly open race for Harris County district attorney. The incumbent, Chuck Rosenthal, was forced to resign after a scandal involving the release of dozens of pornographic and racist e-mails.

His heir apparent, assistant prosecutor Kelley Siegler, was expected to win the GOP primary, but the scandal has damaged her campaign. The winner will face Democratic former Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford.

In Vermont, voters in the town of Brattleboro endorsed a measure calling for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on charges of violating the Constitution.

The symbolic article seeks to have Bush and Cheney arrested if they visit Brattleboro or to extradite them for prosecution elsewhere _ if they're not impeached first.