Marcy Kaptur

Served 18 terms, 1983-present
Currently most senior woman in the U.S. House
Photo: Office of Rep. Kaptur

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Marcy Kaptur

Representative Marcy Kaptur

Served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1983-present

Born: 1946 in Toledo, OH

Education: B.A., University of Wisconsin, 1968; M.A. in Urban Planning, University of Michigan, 1974; post-graduate studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1981

Prior Experience: Urban Planner for the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions from 1969-1975; Director of Planning for the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs from 1975–1977; Domestic Policy Advisor for President Jimmy Carter from 1977-1979

Age When First Elected to the U.S. House: 36

Length of Service: 18 terms (as of Jan 2017)

How She Entered the U.S. House: Defeated incumbent Representative Ed Weber in 1982

Party: Democrat

  • photo: Marcy Kaptur with BW student

    Representative Kaptur talks with a student at an event at Baldwin Wallace University, February 2013. Photo: Baldwin Wallace University Media Relations. 

  • photo: Marcy Kaptur at swearing in

    Representative Kaptur helps preside over the swearing in of new members for the 115th Congress, January 2017.  Photo: The Office of Representative Kaptur.

  • Marcy Kaptur visits with BW students

    Representative Kaptur spoke on the Baldwin Wallace University campus to students, faculty, and the community, February 2013. Photo: Baldwin Wallace University Media Relations. 

  • photo: Marcy Kaptur, Bob Helmer and Barb Palmer speaking to a BW class

    Photo: Baldwin Wallace University Media Relations

  • photo: BW students visit Marcy Kaptur's office

    Students in Professor Barbara Palmer's course on Women, Politics & the Media visited Representative Kaptur's office in Washington, D.C., October 2014. Photo: Barbara Palmer

  • photo: Marcy Kaptur at the Nuns on the Bus tour

    Representative Kaptur attends the 2016 Nuns on the Bus Tour. Photo: The Office of Representative Kaptur.

  • Representative Marcy Kaptur

    Photo: The Office of Representative Marcy Kaptur.

  • Representative Marcy Kaptur

    Photo: The Office of Representative Marcy Kaptur.

  • Inside Representative Kaptur's Office

    Students in Professor Barbara Palmer's course on Women, Politics & the Media visited Representative Kaptur's office in Washington, D.C., October 2014. Photo: Barbara Palmer

  • Representative Marcy Kaptur

    Photo: The Office of Representative Marcy Kaptur

Background

Marcy Kaptur, the most senior woman serving in the 115th Congress (2017-19), still lives in the house she grew up in. From Polish-American working-class roots, she was the first in her family to go to college. She applied to the Air Force Academy and the University of Notre Dame, but was rejected because she was a woman (Gomez). She received a scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin. Kaptur began volunteering with the Ohio Democratic Party when she was 13 and remembers going to vote with her politically-active mother as a child.

In 1982, when she was working on her PhD at MIT, local party leaders approached her to run for US House. The race was a long-shot for the Democrats, as she would be taking on incumbent Republican Ed Weber. After agreeing to run, she desperately needed money for her fledgling campaign. Her idea: a bake sale. “We all laughed,” said Jim Ruvolo, the chair of the Lucas County Democratic Party. But Kaptur and her supporters raised $10,000 selling cookies, pies and pastries. “We all shut up after that,” said Ruvolo (Gomez). In a race that gained national attention, Kaptur won with 60% of the vote. At age 32, should would be one of the youngest women ever elected. Bake sales would remain an integral part of her campaign for years to come.

In the House, Kaptur was largely responsible for the building of the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC, first introducing legislation for the memorial in 1987. She has been a strong opponent of international trade agreements, including NAFTA. In 1996, presidential hopeful Ross Perot asked her to be his running mate, but she declined.

Since her first election in 1982, she has won with an average of 74% of the vote. In 2012, her district was substantially redrawn, and she was paired against 7-term Democratic incumbent Dennis Kucinich in the primary. The new district stretched over 100 miles along Lake Erie, from downtown Toledo to downtown Cleveland. Occasionally, when she was campaigning in the eastern part of the district, she would spend the night with a congregation of nuns instead of driving 2 hours all the way back to Toledo (Gomez). Kaptur defeated Kucinich with 55% of the vote and easily won the general election over Republican Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher.

Learn more about Representative Kaptur.

Ohio's 9th District

Marcy Kaptur currently represents Ohio’s 9th district.  Given her long tenure in office, her district has been redrawn 3 times. When she was first elected in 1982, the district was relatively small and compact geographically, including Toledo and then extending west into neighboring rural Fulton County.  At the time, Kaptur’s district was probably best known for being the home of Corporal Max Klinger from the television show, “M*A*S*H.” After the 1992 round of redistricting, the district was expanded to the east and south into next-door Ottawa and Wood Counties.  In 2002, it was substantially redrawn, beginning its meander to the east along the southern shore of Lake Erie.  In 2012, the district was gerrymandered even more, called one of the five ugliest districts in the United States, and was nicknamed the “mistake on the lake” because of its unusual shape that stretched over 140 miles along Lake Erie from Toledo to Cleveland (shown here).  At one point, the district is only as wide as a bridge and runs along a beach.

Learn more about Ohio's 9th District.

Election History

YearRepublican OpponentKaptur's % of 2-Party Vote
1982Ed Weber59.6%
1984Frank Venner65.6%
1986Mike Shufeldt77.5%
1988Al Hawkins81.3%
1990Jerry Lammers77.7%
1992Ken Brown77.1%
1994Randy Whitman75.3%
1996Randy Whitman78.7%
1998Edward Emery81.2%
2000Dwight Bryan77.3%
2002Edward Emery74.0%
2004Larry Kaczala68.1%
2006Bradley Leavitt73.6%
2008Bradley Leavitt74.4%
2010Rich Iott59.4%
2012Sam Wurzelbacher76.0%
2014Richard May67.7%
2016Donald Phllip Larson68.7%

District Map

Ohio's 9th District Map

Ohio's 9th District

Sources and Resources

The Almanac of American Politics, (various editions).

CQ’s Politics in America, (various editions).

Foerstel, Karen. 1999. Biographical Dictionary of Congressional Women. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Gomez, Henry. 2012. “Blue-collar roots guide Marcy Kaptur's folksy -- and occasionally fiery -- career in Congress,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 18th, http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2012/02/blue-collar_roots_guide_marcy.html

Kaptur, Marcy. 1996. Women of Congress: A Twentieth Century Odyssey. Washington: Congressional Quarterly.

“Representative Marcy Kaptur.” Congress.gov, https://www.congress.gov/member/marcy-kaptur/K000009?q={%22search%22:[%22marcy+kaptur%22]}&r=1