Kaptur sets tone early in tough reelection campaign

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur faces a tough reelection bid in her newly-drawn district.
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:08 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:16 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Close general elections aren’t something Representative Marcy Kaptur has experienced many times during her nearly-four decade career in Congress.

In her last 18 general election races, the Toledo Democrat has only fallen short of 60 percent of the vote once.

Vying for her 21st term in Congress, the longest-serving woman in U.S. House history is coming out swinging.

Her Trump-endorsed opponent, Republican J.R. Majewski, upset two state lawmakers in the May primary election to advance to the general election against Kaptur.

The congresswoman, who began her term in 1983, is running television ads months ahead of the election that show Majewski near the U.S. Capitol steps on January 6. The ads call Majewski “extremist” and “dangerous.”

The Air Force Veteran who has also worked in the nuclear energy industry was in attendance at the Stop the Steal Rally but has said he did not enter the Capitol. He has not been charged with crimes. The ads have also called out Majewski’s past comments about the police response to the Capitol attacks.

Majewski and Kaptur previously went back in forth on Twitter about his involvement on January 6.

“My opponent is choosing to push a false narrative about me to deceive voters and avoid discussing the very real problems facing Ohio families today,” his campaign’s communications director said in a statement. “Career politician Marcy Kaptur must answer for her forty years of failure in Congress and her rubber stamp on Biden’s toxic agenda that is forcing hardworking, middle-class families to suffer at every turn: the grocery store, energy bills, the gas pump. Ohioans deserve better.”

Kaptur’s campaign said in a statement that “J.R. Majewski’s actions on January 6th speak for themselves.”

“Ohioans support the men and women in blue and know Marcy Kaptur has always had their backs. Instead of deflecting, J.R. Majewski needs to explain to Ohioans why he has never apologized for the attack against Capitol Police,” the campaign said.

University of Toledo political science professor, Dr. Jeff Broxmeyer, said Democrats appear to want to make those images of the Capitol attack a central piece of the campaign, especially as the televised January 6 hearings conclude.

He said Majewski stands to be a viable candidate in November as President Trump remains popular among voters in the district. He said the fact that Kaptur is running ads so early in the campaign reflects the political climate for Democrats across the country, who could lose control of the House in November.

“Representative Kaptur is trying to kind of lay some groundwork to make the argument for reelection in a climate that’s frankly, pretty unfavorable to Democrats right now, in terms of just the way that the public mood is,” Broxmeyer said. “The public mood is very surly.”

Political science professor discusses Rep. Marcy Kaptur's tough reelection bid in a newly-drawn district against J.R. Majewski.

Kaptur’s newly-drawn district does her no favors.

Ohio Republicans on the state’s redistricting commission redrew her district that currently stretches from Toledo to Cleveland to now extend west to the Indiana border and extends east to Erie County.

The last time Toledo’s congressional district shared a border with Indiana was 1853.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this week that the new congressional map is unconstitutional because it is gerrymandered to unfairly favor Republicans. State leaders need to create a new map for 2024.

In her 20 general election contests since 1982, Kaptur has averaged 71% of the vote. But she has had difficult reelection bids before.

In 2012, after Republicans redrew the congressional map, she defeated incumbent congressman and former Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich in the primary election. Kaptur secured 56% of the vote to advance to November.

“She’s very much a survivor in tough circumstances,” Broxmeyer said. “But this is the most difficult race, I think you could say, in her long career.”

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