U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, the second-most tenured woman in congressional history, has released a new television ad explicitly breaking with President Joe Biden, the most prominent Democrat to do so, as she seeks reelection in a Toledo-area seat that was redrawn to be sharply more Republican.
Kaptur, who was first elected in 1982, criticized Biden in the ad over “letting Ohio solar manufacturers be undercut by China” and ended it with an attempt to cast her identity as independent from his.
“Marcy Kaptur: She doesn’t work for Joe Biden; she works for you,” the ad concludes. “I’m Marcy Kaptur and I approve this message.”
The remapping of districts in Ohio made Kaptur’s seat substantially more red this year by taking away parts of the Cleveland suburbs and exchanging them for a western swath of the state that reaches toward the Indiana border. The result turned the district from one that Biden easily won in 2020 to one that former President Donald Trump would have carried that year.
Still, the ad from Kaptur is a relative surprise. She appeared with Biden only a few weeks ago, greeting him on the tarmac at an airport in Cleveland where photos appear to show Biden kissing her hand.
In response to her new ad, Republicans were already recirculating video of Kaptur campaigning for Biden in 2020 and declaring, “It will be my honor to not just vote for Joe Biden but to work for him.”
The ad signals how important the political makeup of a district is, as it is increasingly rare for a lawmaker to hold a seat in an area that the opposing party’s presidential candidate won.
Ohio has steadily trended Republican ever since Trump won the state in 2016. In 2020, the perennial presidential battleground had become a distinctively second-tier swing state. Trump succeeded in part by making inroads with the kind of union constituency that has always been a key part of Kaptur’s base.
In her new ad, Kaptur says that while she has been “fighting back” against Biden, she has also been “working with Republican Rob Portman,” the state’s retiring senator.
At least one other incumbent congressional Democrat has aired an ad distancing himself from Biden: Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, who in 2020 won the most pro-Trump House seat of any Democrat in the nation. He aired an ad this month positioning himself as an “independent voice” and saying he had voted against “trillions of dollars of President Biden’s agenda because I knew it would make inflation worse.”
The leading House Republican super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, announced a new ad on Friday linking Golden to Biden, saying he “cast one of the deciding votes for Biden’s new massive spending bill.”
Democrats are seeking to boost Biden’s image after the recent signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, with the Democratic National Committee being the latest to announce an ad buy highlighting parts of the package.
In Kaptur’s ad, she also calls her opponent, J.R. Majewski, out by name and labels him an “extremist.”
Majewski, an Air Force veteran, was a surprise primary winner in May who first garnered attention after turning his lawn into a 19,000-square-foot “Trump 2020” sign. He said he was proud of going to Washington on the day of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but added, “I didn’t do anything illegal. Unfortunately, there were some that did.” He has spread the baseless theory that the attack was “driven by the FBI and it was a stage show.”
Majewski has also expressed interest in the QAnon conspiracy theory, which espouses falsely that there is a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles controlling the government.
The Cook Political Report rates the Ohio contest as a toss-up.