Member vs. member



The political spotlight in recent months has focused on the Republican presidential primary and President Obama’s reelection prospects.

There has also been a lot of attention paid to the battle for control of the Senate, particularly the high-profile matchup between Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren.

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But what’s slipped under the radar are the marquee House matchups of lawmaker versus lawmaker created by the redistricting process, which occurs every 10 years.

Less than a month from now, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) will face off against Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Kaptur, in her 15th term, is the longest-serving woman in the House. Kucinich, who has launched quixotic bids for the White House, is a darling of the left.

Kaptur has more money, while Kucinich recently snared the endorsement of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). The winner of the Kaptur-Kucinich primary will face Joe Wurzelbacher (R), otherwise known as Joe the Plumber.

California Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman are vying for the same seat in what will surely be the most expensive primary in the nation. Sherman has $3.68 million in the bank, and Berman has nearly $2.9 million. 

The vast majority of the California delegation has backed Berman, including his close friend, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

New Jersey Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman have a combined $3 million in their war chests. That primary takes place in early June.

Republican lawmakers are also facing one another. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), serving his 10th term, is going up against freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) is pitted against Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.), and has a 2-to-1 money edge.

There are a couple Republican-vs.-Democratic incumbent elections. GOP operatives have been trying for years to oust Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), repeatedly predicting his demise in recent cycles. But Boswell keeps winning.

This year, he faces his toughest test against Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), a close friend of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who has $1.9 million in the bank. Latham has less than $500,000. 

Redistricting can be cruel as some members are squeezed out of their districts. Often, these lawmakers must make the tough decision to retire or challenge a friend on their side of the aisle.

Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) recently opted not to go up against his ally, Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) and instead announced his retirement. 

Such a decision is rare, however, as most members prefer the scramble for survival — there is no such thing as a friendly campaign — to the tranquility of retirement.