Even though I was not born in Cleveland, Ohio, I consider myself a pseudo-expert on the city due to my years as a college professor at Hiram College (about 40 minutes from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame). And if there’s one thing that stands out about the Cleveland area, it’s the amazingly dire and depressing way that people speak about the city. Any city that promotes itself by saying “We’re Not Detroit!” has some serious self-esteem issues. All you have to do is watch “Parma State of Mind” (a cover of New York State of Mind about the Cleveland suburbs) and you have to wonder how anybody can govern a region that’s so depressed.
So you have to give credit to Marcy Kaptur, the Congresswoman who beat Dennis Kucinich in the intra-party primary on Super Tuesday for figuring out a way to tap into the Cleveland zeitgeist. She took all of that rust-belt, scratch-off-ticket-buying, chain-link-fence-using, skoal-chewing angst of Northeast Ohio and hit the former “Boy Mayor” with a radio ad he couldn’t counter.
The big knock against Kucinich was that he was a national Congressman rather than a local one. He spent a lot of time running for president twice, speaking all over the world and most recently flirting with the idea that he would run for an open Congressional seat in Washington State if things didn’t work out in Ohio.
Kaptur pounced on that faster than you can say King James, running this killer radio ad entitled “Moving Truck” where she compared Dennis to some of the most notorious folks in the history of Cleveland. Art Modell, who stole the Cleveland Browns from the city, turned them into the Baltimore Ravens and then won a Super Bowl. And, of course, everyone’s favorite whipping-boy LeBron James who gave Clevelanders seven years of great basketball, but had the nerve to leave for Miami once his contract was completed! Down to Dennis: with his eye on Seattle he fit the bill as yet another Clevelander who was about to jump ship the moment he didn’t get what he wanted.
Marcy hit the “Boy Mayor” where it hurt, and right where Clevelanders could feel it.
To be fair, this won’t stop locals from whining, complaining or bemoaning the city like God has personally abandoned them. However, unlike former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Marcy Kaptur realizes just how self-effacing and depressed her new district is and worked that to her advantage. More importantly, she managed to elevate LeBron to ‘reverse’-Kingmaker. That’s quite an accomplishment for a rust-belt Congresswoman from Toledo.