Jillian Bandes

But Kaptur has played her cards right. With the retirement of David Obey of Wisconsin, she has a shot at chairing a subcommittee on the Agriculture, Defense and Transportation Committee. Two other members of that committee have also left room for Kaptur to ascend – Democrat Alan Mollohan of West Virginia lost his primary election and Democrat John Murtha died. Kaptur is also a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Agriculture, serving an industry that is strong in her district.

The Congresswoman also put on a grand publicity show during the Goldman Sachs hearings, a focus of this year’s election cycle. During the height of the controversy, Kaptur showed up at the Justice Department with a letter signed by 62 members of Congress, demanding clarity about the investigations of major financial institutions and insisting that the perpetrators be sent to jail. She might have knocked her authority down a few notches when she mixed up Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasurey Secretary Hank Paulson during a congressional hearing, but she still came out swinging.

Where she really might be vulnerable is if voters come to terms with the fact that Kaptur’s Democratic policies haven’t bettered their lives during her many terms in office, and that Republican Rich Iott might offer an appealing alternative. Iott is the former CEO of Food Town, a grocery chain in the northwest United States, and has been a part of numerous other start-up business in the Toledo area. He’s also a military reservist. Iott’s primary focus during the campaign, and during his potential term in office, will be jobs and the economy, said Wenzel.

“Voters are really unhappy with where the country’s going,” he said. “Nothing that’s going on in Washington these days gives them any encouragement that Congress is going to make it any better.”

Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for Townhall.com