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Dennis Kucinich

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Dennis John Kucinich (born October 8, 1946) is a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives, for the 10th District of Ohio. He was one of ten major candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination in the 2004 presidential elections. Though Kucinich continues to campaign, he has won no primaries.

Kucinich is considered to be a green liberal; he is sometimes described 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.

Table of contents
1 Personal Life
2 Mayorship
3 US House of Representatives
4 2004 Presidential Campaign
5 Notable Quotes
6 External links

Personal Life

Born on October 8, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio, Dennis Kucinich is the eldest of seven children. A blue-collar man, his father was a semi-truck driver. By the time he was seventeen years old, Kucinich remembers living in twenty-one places, including a few 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 from his marriage to Sandra Lee McCarthy. A staunch environmentalist, Kucinich maintains a vegan lifestyle.


In 1977, Kucinich, at the age of 31, became the mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest mayor of a major US city, after running 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 sharply increased and sometimes tripled the cost of power to Muny Light. As a result, Muny Light began to lose money. The current, mayor of Cleveland then 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 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 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.

At midnight on December 15, 1978, Cleveland Trust put the City of Cleveland into default. 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 US-Canada 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 play on his name, his youthful appearance and his positions (which in that context were often being characterized as extremist and anti-business).

US House of Representatives

He has criticized the Diebold corporation, and posted internal company memos on his websites. [1]

Kucinich voted against the Patriot Act in the House of Representatives, and as he states on his website, he is the only presidential candidate to have done so. Fellow candidates Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Carol Moseley Braun, and Al Sharpton (although all of the above have dropped out) were not in Congress at the time, and hence had no opportunity to vote; all have expressed concerns about the legislation, as have several of the other candidates who voted for it at the time.

However, Kucinich does not have a consistently liberal voting record as a congressman. 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]

2004 Presidential Campaign

Platform and Criticism

Kucinich's platform for 2004 includes:

  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 healthcare.
  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 are 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.

Campaign Strategy

A great deal of Kucinich's campaign advertising involves references to his supporters. Kucinich's website contains a list of well-known individuals who are among his supporters, including:

Polls and Primaries

In the
2004 Democratic presidential nomination race, national polls have consistently shown 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 is not viewed as a viable contender by most, there are differing polls on Kucinich's popularity.

Shockingly, he earned second place in's primary, behind Dean. He has also placed first in other polls, particularly Internet-based ones. This had led many activists to believe that his showing the primaries may be better than what Gallup polls have 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 has been most prevalent in the caucuses around the country. Caucuses are community meetings rather than the more common primary polls, and they often give results that are somewhat unexpected.

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 so far has been 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 had also seen 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 there.

Notable Quotes

External links