Politics & Government

Rep. Kucinich: man with a country looking for a district

Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio was a popular figure among devoted Olympia leftists when he ran twice for president. And now there's a rash of speculation that he could run for Congress in Washington.

"We need him in Congress. He's a counterbalance to the war machine Some district needs to keep him in office. I'm hoping it is here," Cheryl Crist, who led Kucinich's presidential campaign activity in Thurston County, said this afternoon. Crist also ran for Congress three times as a peace candidate in the 3rd district that overlaps Olympia.

Speculation is the liberal icon could run in Washington’s yet-to-be-created new 10th Congressional District or the 1st, which U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee of Bainbridge Island is likely to vacate for his second run for governor.

This piece by Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times confirms that Kucinich is looking for a district, knowing he may lose his Ohio foothold as that industrial state loses two of its 18 seats due to the reapportionment after the 2010 Census. An excerpt:

After people learned that Kucinich's district might be eliminated or redrawn by the Ohio Legislature's Republican majority, Kucinich "received requests from people in 20 states, including Washington, encouraging him to move and run in their area," said the statement from press secretary Nathan White. "Congressman Kucinich appreciates the interest expressed in his public service. As he has repeatedly said, he fully intends to remain in Congress; he just doesn't know in what district he will run," the statement said.Kucinich, a former Cleveland mayor, has a base of support in Washington, which gave him some of his strongest backing in his underdog 2004 and 2008 presidential runs. He also has a stranger connection, having famously claimed to have spotted a giant triangular UFO in 1982 while staying at actress Shirley MacLaine's house near Graham, Pierce County.

More recently, as Brunner duly noted, Kucinich led a May Day rally in Seattle and had other appearances in Tacoma and Bainbridge Island.

Earlier this week Joel Connelly had this piece at seattlepi.com noting Kucinich's recent appearances in Washington – including Olympia and Lacey in February.

But where Kucinich could land is a question. The 10th district doesn't exist yet but Thurston County and northeast King County (including Bellevue and areas north) are mentioned as possible centers for the new district. Inslee's district includes Bainbridge Island which Kucinich also might welcome.

Crist said she considers Kucinich a friend and personally "encouraged him to come out here." She said she helped plan a February appearance by Kucinich at an Olympia theater that drew about 800 people.

"It was standing-room-only inside, and the crowd just loved him. Someone asked him if he would consider running out here if his district goes away He said it was a very intriguing idea," Crist recalled.

Crist said a lot of other places like Kucinich, too, but "he's been out here an awful lot the last three months."