Dennis Kucinich to face fellow Democrat Marcy Kaptur in Ohio primary

WASHINGTON - MARCH 17: U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) speaks during a news conference to announce his vote on the health care reform legislation March 17, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Kucinich said he will vote in favor of the health care reform legislation..
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Longtime Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich will face off against fellow Democrat Marcy Kaptur - herself the longest-serving woman in the House - in the primary for a new Ohio district this March, the congressman confirmed to CBS News on Wednesday.

Kucinich, who ran for president in 2004 and 2008, formerly represented Ohio's 10th district, which he has been serving since 1997. Kaptur has been serving Ohio's 9th district since 1983. Due to redistricting, however, which resulted in the loss of two Ohio seats, the two regions will merge into a new 9th district - and the longtime colleagues will go head-to-head in an effort to hold on to their jobs.

The new district lines seem to skew to Kaptur's benefit, and Kucinich had openly considered running in other districts - including one in Washington state, which gained a seat in redistricting. On Wednesday, however, the congressman filed paperwork signaling that he will indeed remain with his constituents in the Cleveland area. (The new ninth district is larger than either was previously, spanning from Cleveland to Toledo along lake Eerie.)

In an interview on Wednesday, Kucinich said he thinks the newly-drawn district will encompass a significant portion of his base and that he has a good chance of winning.

"This redistricting process - not just in Ohio but nationally - is unique and a little bit crazy," Kucinich told Hotsheet. "But when all is said and done, the new district kept intact the heart of my political base, with my home in it, and so I'm confident that I have a good chance to win." (When asked if he thought the redistricting process had been fair in Ohio, the congressman laughed heartily.)

Regardless, the longtime congressman says he won't take anything for granted in the upcoming election.

"It's certainly a competitive race and one that I intend to work very hard to win," he said. "I don't take anything for granted. It's a challenge for all the candidates; there's 69 days until the election. When they changed the map they also set a March 6th primary. We don't have much time - I just have to get out there."

"I'm just going to go out there and campaign and focus on a couple things," he added. "Focus on how we can create jobs, talk about the constituents service that's really been the hallmark of my work inside the district. It's really important when people feel that you care about their concerns."

A vocal antiwar activist, Kucinich said he would also continue to advocate for peace -- and that he thinks America "is starting to move in my direction" on the issue.

He noted that he has known Kaptur for thirty years, and said he would approach the upcoming race "in the spirit of friendship."

"Listen, neither of us chose the map," Kucinich said. "It is what it is. I'm approaching this election in a spirit of friendship. You can be competitors but you can still be friends."