Dennis Kucinich

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Dennis John Kucinich (born October 8, 1946) is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, for the 10th District of Ohio (map (http://nationalatlas.gov/printable/images/preview/congdist/oh10_109.gif)). He also sought the Democratic Party's nomination in the 2004 presidential election. Though he won no primaries, he continued campaigning for months with the goal of influencing the Democratic Party to shift its platform in the progressive direction, especially on the issue of peace. On July 23, 2004, Kucinich ended his campaign and endorsed Democratic Senator John Kerry for President.

Considered to be a green liberal, Kucinich sometimes describes himself as a "Wellstone Democrat." He has been praised as "a genuine progressive" by Ralph Nader. In 2003, Kucinich was the recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award.

Contents

Personal life

Kucinich was born in Cleveland, Ohio, as the eldest of the seven children of Frank and Virginia Kucinich (Kucinić). His Croatian father, a blue-collar man, was a semi-truck driver; his Slovenian mother, a homemaker. According to Kucinich, by the time he was 17, he had lived in twenty-one places, including several cars. He was able to pay for his college tuition by scrubbing floors. In 1973, he graduated from Case Western Reserve University with both a BA, and an MA.

Kucinich is twice-divorced, with a daughter, Jackie, from his marriage to Sandra Lee McCarthy.

Kucinich is a Catholic, an environmentalist, and a vegan.

With a net worth of between $2,000 and $32,000, Kucinich is one of Congress's least wealthy members.

Kucinich as mayor of Cleveland
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Kucinich as mayor of Cleveland

Mayorship

Kucinich's political career began early. He was elected to Cleveland City Council in 1969, when he was 23. In 1972, Kucinich ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives, losing to incumbent Republican William E. Minshall Jr.. In 1974, after Minshall's retirement, Kucinich sought the seat again. However, this time, Kucinich did not get the Democratic nomination, which instead went to Ronald M. Mottl. Kucinich ran in the general election anyway, as an independent. While he came in third, he still managed to garner almost 30 percent of the vote. Interestingly enough, Democrat Mottl still managed to win the race, even with such a large chunk of the Democratic vote going to Kucinich.

In 1977, he became the mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. At 31, he was the youngest mayor of a major city in the United States.

The "boy mayor" ran on a ticket promising to cancel the sale of the city's publicly owned electric company, Municipal Light, to a private electric company, the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI).

CEI had been responsible for numerous violations of federal antitrust law in its attempt to put Muny Light out of business. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission determined that CEI blocked Muny Light from making repairs to its generator by lobbying the Cleveland City Council to place restrictive conditions on Muny Light Bonds. Because of the delay in repairs, Muny Light had to purchase power. CEI then worked behind the scenes to block Muny Light from purchasing power from other power companies. CEI became the only power company Muny Light could buy from. At that point, CEI began "price gouging," sharply increasing and sometimes tripling the cost of power to Muny Light. As a result, Muny Light began to lose money. The current mayor of Cleveland agreed to sell Muny Light to CEI, but after Kucinich won the election, he canceled the sale.

CEI went to court to demand that Muny Light pay $15 million in damages for power it had purchased. The previous mayor had intended to pay that light bill by selling the light system, simultaneously disposing of a $325 million dollar antitrust damage suit. Kucinich's election not only stopped the sale, but kept the lawsuit alive. CEI went to a United States federal court to get an order attaching city equipment. Kucinich moved quickly to pay the bill by cutting city spending. On December 15, 1978, Ohio's largest bank, Cleveland Trust, told Kucinich that they would not renew the city's credit on $15 million of loans taken out by the previous administration unless Kucinich would agree to sell.

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Kucinich and Jimmy Carter.

At midnight on December 15, 1978, Cleveland Trust put the City of Cleveland into default, the first time a city went into default since the Great Depression.

Later, it was revealed, that Cleveland Trust and CEI had four interlocking directors. Cleveland Trust was CEI's bank. Together with another bank, Cleveland Trust owned a substantial share of CEI stock and had numerous other mutual interests. Public power was continued in Cleveland.

Kucinich lost the election in 1979 with default as the major issue. CEI was subsequently acquired and is now part of First Energy. Muny Light is now known as Cleveland Public Power and is still in public hands.

Estimated total savings due to this decision had reached over $300 million in 1998, when the Cleveland City Council stated that Kucinich had "the courage and foresight to refuse to sell the city's municipal electric system." After the 2003 North America blackout, First Energy was identified as a contributor to the disaster due to various failures. Kucinich began to advocate for liability proceedings.

Critics of Kucinich's performance as mayor cite the city's economic decline during his stewardship. Kucinich was often lampooned in editorials and editorial cartoons as Dennis "the Menace," a reference to the comic strip of that name, Kucinich's name and youthful appearance, and his positions, which in that context were often characterized as extremist and anti-business.

One book, Best and Worst of the Big-City Leaders 1820-1993 (Penn State Press) by Melvin G. Holli in consultation with a panel of experts, placed Kucinich among the ten worst (http://talkleft.com/new_archives/001809.html) for reasons of temperment and performance.

House of Representatives

Kucinich was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 and represents the tenth district of Ohio. He serves on the Congressional Education and Workforce Committee as well as the Government Reform Committee. Kucinich is chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. With 54 members, it is the largest congressional caucus.

Kucinich voted against the USA PATRIOT Act. His voting record is not consistently that of the Democratic Party. He voted for a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, as well as for the resolution calling for an investigation into President Bill Clinton's role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. [1] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18127-2004Jan14.html)

He has criticized the Diebold corporation, and posted internal company memos on his websites. [2] (http://www.kucinich.us/e-voting/intro.php)

See also:

District statistics

The Almanac of American Politics 2004 gives these statistics on his district:

2004 presidential campaign

His platform included the following:

  1. Immediate withdrawal from the WTO and NAFTA.
  2. Moving U.S. troops out of Iraq and replacing them with UN peacekeepers.
  3. Ending the drug war.
  4. Abolishing the death penalty.
  5. Preventing the privatization of social security.
  6. Ratifying the ABM Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol.
  7. Introducing reforms to bring about instant-runoff voting.
  8. Creating a single-payer system of universal health care.
  9. Creating a cabinet-level "Department of Peace"
  10. Legalizing same-sex marriage.
  11. Repealing the USA PATRIOT Act.
  12. Full social security benefits at age 65.

Kucinich has been criticized for flip-flopping on the issue of abortion. He has voted for restrictions on abortions for most of his congressional career; however, he is quick to note that he has never supported a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion altogether. Press releases have indicated that he is pro-choice but also wants to initiate a series of reforms, such as ending the "abstinence-only" policy of sex education and increasing the use of contraception in hopes of making abortion "less necessary" over time.

Ralph Nader and most Greens were friendly to Kucinich's campaign, some going so far as to indicate that they would not have run against him, had he won the Democratic nomination.

Supporters

Prominent supporters in his 2004 presidential campaign (most of whom joined him in supporting Kerry in the general election) included:

Polls and primaries

In the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination race, national polls consistently showed Kucinich's support in single digits, but rising, especially as Dean lost some support among peace activists for refusing to commit to cutting the Pentagon budget. Though he was not viewed as a viable contender by most, there were differing polls on Kucinich's popularity.

He placed second in MoveOn.org's primary, behind Dean. He also placed first in other polls, particularly Internet-based ones. This led many activists to believe that his showing the primaries might be better than what Gallup polls had been saying. However, in the non-binding D.C. Primary Kucinich finished fourth (last out of candidates listed on the ballot), with only eight percent of the vote. Support for Kucinich was most prevalent in the caucuses around the country.

In the Iowa caucuses he finished fifth, receiving about one percent of the delegates from Iowa, despite the 15 percent threshold. He performed similarly in the New Hampshire primary, placing sixth among the seven candidates with 1 percent of the vote. In the Mini-Tuesday primaries Kucinich finished near the bottom in most states, with his best performance in New Mexico where he received six percent of the vote. Kucinich's best showing in a Democratic contest was in the February 24 Hawaii caucus, in which he won 31 percent of caucus participants, coming in second place to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. He also saw a double-digit showing in Maine on February 8, where he got 16% in that state's caucus.

On Super Tuesday, March 2, Kucinich gained another strong showing with the Minnesota caucus, where 17 percent of the ballots went to him. In his home state of Ohio, he gained nine percent in the primary.

Kucinich campaigned heavily in Oregon, spending thirty days there during the two months leading up to the state's May 18th primary. He continued his campaign because "the future direction of the Democratic Party has not yet been determined" [3] (http://www.registerguard.com/news/2004/05/17/a1.or.kucinich.nyt.0517.html) and chose to focus on Oregon "because of its progressive tradition and its pioneering spirit." [4] (http://www.theworldlink.com/articles/2004/05/18/news/news10b.txt). He even offered [5] (http://www.kucinich.us/pressreleases/pr_051404.php) to campaign jointly with Kerry during Kerry's visit to the state, though the offer was ignored. He won 16% of the vote.

Congressional campaign

In the 2004 primary election, Kucinich was renominated for the seat representing Ohio's 10th congressional district.

Democratic party primary election results:

Candidate Votes Percentage
Dennis J. Kucinich 73,063 86
George Pulling 12,380 14

In the general election, the result was:

Candidate Votes Percentage
Dennis J. Kucinich 167,221 59.9
Edward F. Herman 94,120 33.7
Barbara Ferris 17,753 6.3

Kucinich defeated Republican candidate Ed Herman. Because of Kucinich's national fame, both candidates received much backing by their parties from outside the district, particularly on the Internet.

Notable quotes

Template:Wikiquote

  • "You're looking at a guy who believes he can beat a rigged game."
  • "With the capture of Saddam Hussein, the administration's stated goal of removing him from power has been accomplished. The United States must seize this moment and end the occupation of Iraq."
  • "Everyone should have health insurance? I say everyone should have health care. I'm not selling insurance."
  • "We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Unemployment is a weapon of mass destruction."
  • "We're not locked in to these conditions that degrade the environment, and jeopardize the future of our children."
  • "I hold in my heart that rebellious spirit of youth that demands change."

External links


Preceded by:
Ralph Perk
Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio
1978-1979
Succeeded by:
George Voinovich
Preceded by:
Martin R. Hoke
U.S. Representative from Ohio's 10th Congressional District
1997-
Succeeded by:
Incumbent

Template:End box Template:OH-FedRepde:Dennis Kucinich

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