While the media was focused on the Romney-Santorum nail-biter in Ohio last night, crackpot conspiracy theorist and national embarrassment Rep. Dennis Kucinich lost in a landslide in the state’s 9th district Democratic primary. The winner of the race, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who was pitted against Kucinich because of redistricting, is far from perfect. But at least she hasn’t openly provided comfort to dictators via state-controlled media outlets.
WaPo reports on Kucinich’s defeat in an oddly favorable article:
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), the two-time presidential candidate and icon of the antiwar left, suffered a bruising primary defeat Tuesday as a new Republican-drawn congressional map threatened to end the career of one of the most colorful figures in Congress. ….
With about 90 percent of the vote in, Kaptur led 60 to 36 percent.
From his stint as Cleveland’s “Boy Mayor” in the late 1970s, including two debt defaults and the forced sale of the city’s electric plant, to his unsuccessful effort to impeach Vice President Richard B. Cheney in 2007, Kucinich has repeatedly thrust himself into the national spotlight. Often coming up on the short end of his fights, Kucinich, 65, never stopped swinging but usually did so in a friendly spirit.
In Ohio, Mitt Romney won the cities and suburbs and Rick Santorum won the rural areas. On CNN, Gloria Borger and Hilary Rosen on the left and Erick Erickson on the Right argued that this was bad news for Romney because he lost GOP strongholds and won in areas Barack Obama is sure to carry in November. This was spoken so confidently, and reflected all over Twitter, that it may become a piece of conventional wisdom. But it makes no sense. It is important for a Republican candidate to show some strength in areas Republicans don’t win in the general election because that support will cut into the size of the majorities Obama will rack up there. Assuming that the Republican nominee will manage to win Republican areas, this is the path to victory not only in Ohio but in every swing state. One can only assume that when November rolls around, even the problems conservatives troubled by Romney’s ideological laxity and evangelicals troubled by Romney’s Mormonism would have with him pale by comparison with their negative feelings about Obama.
In a year in which the Republican Party’s proportional delegate allocation rules have ruled out a quick end to the presidential race, it isn’t possible for any candidate to use this week’s Super Tuesday primaries to lock up the GOP nomination. With new polls showing he has either caught or surpassed Rick Santorum in the crucial Ohio and Tennessee primaries, Mitt Romney can take a crucial step toward the nomination in tomorrow’s 10-state showdown. If Romney wins in both of those states, that may mean Santorum could end the day without a single triumph to his name. With the fading Newt Gingrich ahead in his adopted home state of Georgia, a Super Tuesday shutout might be a telling blow to Santorum. By tomorrow night, Santorum’s February surge may well be replaced by a March collapse.
The reason for Romney’s growing strength isn’t hard to discern. The frontrunner’s problems have not gone away. He still has trouble connecting with voters and conservatives have yet to accept him as one of their own. But the continued presence of two weak conservative rivals in the field have nevertheless put Mitt Romney in position to solidify his delegate lead as well as strengthen the impression he is the inevitable Republican standard bearer.
Due to its being squeezed in between the crucial Michigan and Arizona primaries and Super Tuesday, not much attention was paid to the Washington state caucus by either the Republican presidential candidates or the media. But while the voting, which took the form of a straw poll at caucuses where delegates to a state convention were chosen, presented the now familiar pattern of chaos that we have to expect from GOP caucuses, the result went pretty much as expected as Mitt Romney cruised to an easy win. Romney took 38 percent of the vote. Second place went to Ron Paul, who narrowly edged out Rick Santorum by a 25-24 percent margin. The fading Newt Gingrich finished last with 10 percent. Along with recent wins in Maine, Wyoming, Arizona and Michigan, this gives Romney a modest five-state winning streak heading in to Super Tuesday with most of the focus on Ohio where he hopes to once again head off a strong challenge from Santorum.
Though Romney’s critics can look at these results and point to the same lack of enthusiasm and inability to win the affection of conservatives that have plagued him elsewhere, his win in Washington highlights the fact that he remains the strongest candidate in the field with the organization and resources to fight and win contests all over the map. Accumulating victories of this sort doesn’t change the narrative about Romney’s personal shortcomings, but it does reinforce the notion of the inevitability of his being nominated by the Republicans.