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Kucinich, Sekula Gibbs Headline Primary Slates

Is Dennis menaced? That's the most pressing question in today's Congressional primary balloting in Ohio.

Having dropped out of the presidential race, Rep. Dennis Kucinich has been working overtime to ensure he wins the Democratic primary in the Cleveland-based 10th district. In Sunday's post, Capitol Briefing emeritus Paul Kane took a good look at Kucinich's race against multiple Democratic opponents, most prominently City Councilman Joe Cimperman.

Cimperman has snagged the endorsements of The Plain Dealer newspaper and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson (D), and the city councilman has based his campaign on the idea that Kucinich has been too distracted by his multiple presidential campaigns and his growing national profile to properly tend to the needs of the district.

But after barnstorming the country for his White House bid, Kucinich has more recently been spending much of his time back in Cleveland. He has raised money at a rapid rate since dropping out of the presidential campaign. And while there has been no reliable polling of the race, Kucinich's late financial surge and deep roots in the district -- and the fact that the vote against him will be split several ways -- should help him in today's primary.

The other notable contest in Ohio today is the GOP primary to face freshman Rep. Zachary Space (D) in the 18th district in the southeastern part of the state. Space won the seat in 2006 after Rep. Robert Ney (R) resigned from Congress following his guilty plea to federal corruption charges.

Though the district leans Republican, giving President Bush 57 percent of the vote in 2004, none of Space's GOP opponents - Paul Phillips, Fred Dailey and Jeanette Moll -- has impressed so far. Whichever one wins today's primary will start out as an underdog in November's general election.

In Texas, the top primary contest is in the Houston-area 22nd district, where 10 candidates are angling for the Republican line against Rep. Nick Lampson (D). If no one gets 50 percent in the GOP primary, the top two vote-getters will proceed to an April 8 runoff.

The most likely candidate to make that runoff is Shelley Sekula Gibbs, who actually held the seat for roughly six weeks at the end of 2006. She won the slot in a special election after the resignation of Rep. Tom DeLay (R), but then lost to Lampson in the race to fill the seat for the 110th Congress (she was unable to make the ballot for that contest and was forced to run as a write-in candidate).

Lampson's seat leans Republican and is high on the GOP's target list this year. Sekula Gibbs has proven to be a decent fundraiser, but she also developed a mixed reputation during her brief stint in the House. Most notably, several of DeLay's former staff quit en masse soon after she took office. If she makes the GOP runoff and wins it, it is unclear how much the district's party establishment will be willing to rally around her.

Like Kucinich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) has also drawn a primary challenge while he's been on the presidential campaign trail. Paul has been at home in recent days to shore up his support, and he is expected to prevail against Friendswood City Councilman Chris Peden.

By Ben Pershing  |  March 4, 2008; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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