(HT: Talking Points Memo)

Congressman Dennis Kucinich sent out an e-mail yesterday to his supporters asking for their financial support as he contemplates where to run as increasing media reports have suggested that Kucinich’s district will be one of the two that will be eliminated in redistricting:

Dear Friend,

The New York Times, Newsweek, and Fox News have all recently headlined stories that I may lose my Congressional seat, not through an election, but through redistricting!

Due to the new census figures, Ohio will lose two seats in Congress. The Ohio Legislature (Republican) will redraw the map with 16 instead of 18 districts for the 2012 Election. Speculation nationally, and more importantly, in Ohio is that my district may be eliminated, absorbed into parts of other districts. Keep in mind, given the early Ohio primary, the filing deadline could be only a year away.

You have helped to make possible my presence in the Congress through seven terms, and carried me through some hotly contested elections. I am very grateful for your continued support. I am also very grateful to the people of Ohio’s 10th District for the privilege of serving.

Yet, in light of the strong chance that my district may be eliminated, my continued presence in Congress, to work for everything we care about, will obviously call for a much different strategy. I will not wait until a new Ohio map is produced to begin this crucial discussion of the consequences of congressional redistricting. I will not wait until the Ohio Legislature produces a new map to start thinking of the options. The question will not be: Who is my opponent? The question will be: Where is my district? Seriously.

We are going to have to prepare for a different kind of election, possibly in a different place because my district may be eliminated. We are going to have to organize in a different way, now. The question will remain: Where?

This discussion is consequential. Please participate by providing your insight and advice advice@kucinich.us This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
I will be in contact with you.

Facing the New Year with the usual unsinkable optimism, and wishing you the best New Year ever, I am, yours,

Kucinich doesn’t have many enviable choices.  His district neighbors the districts of Marsha Fudge (D-11), Betty Sutton (D-13), and LaTourette (R-14).

So, Kucinich can either challenge a fellow Democrat in a primary or run against LaTourette where he likely faces longer odds in the general election.  Keep in mind that Kucinich also only carried he his current district by 53%—the lowest of any incumbent in Ohio not to lose re-election.  But Kucinich has a national fundraising base.  He raised and spent nearly a million in the past election cycle.  Believe it or not.

I expect that Kucinich’s district will likely be divided up mostly between Sutton and Fudge’s district.  The Republicans aren’t going to do much to Fudge’s district in order to avoid a potential Voting Rights Act challenge.  So, given those assumptions, I’m expecting that Kucinich has the ugly choice of running a primary with the usual white candidate versus African-American Cuyahoga county power struggle, or a liberal male/female dynamic with a primary against Sutton.

At least the Morning Journal has speculated that Sutton’s district could be the second to go, too.  But the reality is that they simply cannot draw a map that would make both districts unwinnable by one of them.

Instead, I think the reality is that Sutton and Kucinich could both be “eliminated” by the process Newsweek hints at.  Make enough changes to Sutton’s district that it draws a Kucinich primary challenge, and hope that they engage in such a bloody primary that neither is strong enough to win what is now more of a swing district that a strong Republican candidate can win eliminating them both. 

That’s actually how Ted Strickland was able to win his first Congressional campaign in 1992.  Bob McEwen limped out of the Republican primary so battered in a new district where voters didn’t know him well enough that an upstate could defeat the incumbent.  It wasn’t by design in 1992.  It could be in 2012.

I think it’s pretty safe assumption.  Dennis Kucinich is looking at a primary challenge to Betty Sutton.  It’s probably his only option.  It could be a very expensive primary.  Sutton raised and spent nearly $1.7 million in her race this cycle against Tom Ganley; Kucinich over $900k in his race.

Watch for potential fireworks between Sutton and Kucinich as redistricting heats up next year.