Rich Iott was never considered to be in a very close race for Congress. Now that the lore of his Nazi re-enactments have spread throughout his district and across the nation, we can safely say that hasn't changed.
Iott's Nazi-re-enacting escapades have consumed local Toledo news since The Atlantic's Josh Green broke the story this past weekend: the story led the Toledo Blade over the weekend, with repeated stories about all the heat being thrown Iott's way by Democrats nationwide.
A Toledo rabbi called the photos of Iott in SS garb "disturbing," while a Jewish friend of Iott's (who lives in L.A.), has offered a defense.
Unsurprisingly, Iott's past as a Nazi Re-enactor featured prominently in his debate last night with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, as Iott called The Atlantic's reporting a "coordinated" attack orchestrated by Kaptur, as Kaptur forcefully criticized him.
He's received some tepid defense from a local Republican:
Republican Toledo City Councilman Rob Ludeman is not defending Iott, but says he still supports him."I'm not going to withdraw support because of one action in his past that took place a number of years ago," said Ludeman. "He's a good man. He'll represent our area better than the current congressperson."
Democrats in Ohio haven't held back in blasting Iott: the Lucas County Democrats have set up a website dedicated to promoting his re-enactment photos, while the Ohio Democratic Party is calling on Iott to apologize.
The local ABC affiliate, meanwhile, talks to two residents, one of whom is deeply offended while the other defends Iott, saying: "Let's find out what would happen if someone like William Shatner or Leonard Nemoy went to [run] for public office and they pulled up the Star Trek episode where they played the Nazis. Come on, it's the same thing."
It seems dubious that the Iott controversy will seep into other elections in Ohio. A spokesperson for Democratic Senate candidate Lee Fisher, who trails Republican Rob Portman significantly, said Iott's Nazi photos were "probably not an issue in this campaign," while a Democratic operative working on another Ohio House campaign voiced a similar opinion.
While Iott's campaign reportedly claimed that internal polling showed Iott trailing Kaptur by only five percentage points, Kaptur has long been considered safe in her seat, as she has won with over 70% of the vote in her previous two elections.