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Rep. Kaptur beats fellow Dem Kucinich in Ohio primary to take on 'Joe the Plumber', as newcomer upsets Republican Schmidt

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    Democratic Ohio Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich were forced into a primary after redistricting cost Ohio two congressional seats. (AP)

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    Feb. 24, 2012: Republican congressional candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, talks with supporters after giving a speech in Rocky River, Ohio. Wurzelbacher faces longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the general election. (AP)

Veteran Democratic U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur defeated congressional colleague Dennis Kucinich in the battle for a newly drawn Ohio congressional district and will face an unexpected yet well-known name from the 2008 presidential race -- "Joe the Plumber."

Kucinich was clearly not happy about his defeat.

"I would like to be able to congratulate Congresswoman Kaptur but I do have to say she ran a campaign in the Cleveland media market that was utterly lacking in integrity with false statements, half-truths, misrepresentations. I hope that is not the kind of representation she would provide to this community. And I don't think the people of Toledo have any idea of the kind of campaign that was run in the Cleveland area. And my own integrity requires me to just say this: That's not all right."

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, a.k.a."Joe the Plumber," who became a well-known figure in the 2008 race after he caused a firestorm by asking a question about working class tax rates to then-Sen. Barack Obama, defeated Toledo real estate agent Steve Kraus in the Republican race to take on Kaptur. 

Kaptur is the favorite going into the general election since the newly drawn district connecting Cleveland to Toledo along the Lake Erie lakeshore tilts toward Democrats. 

Polling in the weeks before the primary showed Kaptur had a slight edge over Kucinich but his high national profile -- he ran for president in 2004 and 2008 -- ensured the race would be close. 

Before Ohio drew its new congressional maps, Kucinich floated the possibility of running for the House in Washington state. Kaptur criticized Kucinich for putting his national profile over loyalty to Ohio.

The bitterly fought race was a sharp turnaround from the praise both had heaped on each other over the 15 years in Congress. Kucinich told the Toledo Blade in 2007 that "Marcy's the kind of person who can't be bought. That's the most precious quality in government. I'm the president of her fan club."

While the longtime allies initially cast themselves as reluctant opponents, the race eventually spiraled into personal attacks when the two candidates found few policy differences two draw between each other.

Kucinich accused Kaptur's campaign of removing his campaign signs out of yards and streets. Meanwhile, Kaptur's campaign howled after Kucinich ran an ad against her that said, "Maybe in Toledo politics, facts don't matter."

Declaring victory, Kaptur thanked the voters for "allowing us to use our seniority to help our region." She also acknowledged Kucinich "for his spirited debate" and said she would need his supporters in the general election.

By the end, the primary battle came down to which candidate could rack up the best celebrity endorsements.

Kucinich rolled out endorsements from musicians Willie Nelson and Russell Simmons. Kaptur showcased the support of Oscar winner Tom Hanks and former GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole.

While everyone in Ohio knew either Kucinich or Kaptur would lose a congressional seat on Tuesday, no one anticipated Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt to be in trouble -- until she was done in unexpectedly in the Republican primary by Brad Wenstrup, an Iraq war veteran who was an Army Reserve surgeon..

Schmidt has always underperformed in her suburban Cincinnati district since she succeeded Rob Portman in a 2005 special election. Portman, a former congressman and now a senator, had stepped down to become U.S. Trade Representative, but had generally won re-election with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Schmidt nearly lost to Democrat Victoria Wulsin in 2006 and 2008 in what is an historically Republican district. Schmidt barely pulled 50 percent against Wulsin in 2006. Wulsin held Schmidt to under 50 percent in 2008.

Months after joining Congress, Schmidt nearly triggered a fist fight on the House floor when she criticized then-Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., a former Marine, for his call for the U.S. to withdraw forces from Iraq. During a debate in the House chamber, Schmidt looked at Murtha and proclaimed "cowards cut and run. Marines never do."

Schmidt was also tarnished by an ethics scandal. The House Ethics Committee cleared Schmidt of wrongdoing when a Turkish foundation indirectly contributed to her legal defense fund. But the ethics committee instructed her not to let it happen again.

Schmidt represents Moscow along the Ohio River, which was ravaged by a tornado Friday.

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.