Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) will run for reelection in Ohio next year, he announced Tuesday, a change of heart after months of hinting he might move to Washington state if Republicans dismantled his district.
"It is an amazing turn of events that the legislature decided not to dismantle the district I represent," Kucinich said in a statement shortly after the state's draft redistricting maps were released. "I have been praying that I could continue to serve my Cleveland-area constituency and it looks like I have a chance. That is all I could have hoped for."
There was speculation Kucinich would move to Washington state, which gained a seat, if Ohio's new map eliminated his district. That talk was fueled by Kucinich's frequent visits to the Evergreen State, despite Democrats there saying he would be unwelcome.
Now he is likely face Kaptur in a Democratic primary.
"Kaptur would begin this primary with an advantage here," said Cook Political Report House Editor David Wasserman. "Kucinich is known as more of a progressive, she's known as more of a labor Democrat, which is the type of Democrat they have in this district. And the fact that he's spent a lot of time shopping for a district in another state likely hurts him back home."
The Republicans in control of the state legislature had to eliminate two seats because of the state's stagnant population growth. House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office was closely involved in drawing the final map, and the party decided to take a more cautious approach and insure that they would hold four of the five seats they won back from the Democrats in 2010 rather than trying to hold all five and risking them all flipping back.
Because the GOP had to eliminate two seats and because the party already holds a 13-5 edge in the state delegation, making it harder to add seats without destabilizing other members, they threw GOP Reps. Steve Austria and Michael Turner into the same district.
Instead of targeting Kucinich exclusively, as some expected, Republican line-drawers made it hard for him to win reelection while also chopping up Rep. Betty Sutton's (D-Ohio) Akron-based district. She will either have to run against Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) in a Republican-leaning district or challenge Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) in a primary.
The new map also creates a Democratic seat in Columbus in order to make the surrounding districts more Republican. It should give Republicans a 12-4 advantage in the new delegation, assuming Renacci can hold onto his seat and there are no surprises elsewhere.
"Republicans have been ale to strengthen a lot of their seats," said one GOP source familiar with the map. "I'm actually calling it a [Democrat] minus-two map: A lot of the seats that were either weakly Democrat or toss-up have been upgraded a notch to toss-up or weak Republican."
—This story was updated at 7:09 p.m.