ENG: Dennis John Kucinich (born October 8, 1946) was a U.S. Representative, serving from 1997-2013. He was also a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections.
He was a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
From 1977 to 1979, Kucinich served as the 53rd mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, a tumultuous term in which he survived a recall election and was successful in a battle against selling the municipal electric utility before being defeated for reelection by George Voinovich.
Through his various governmental positions and campaigns, Kucinich attracted attention for consistently delivering "the strongest liberal" perspective. This perspective has been shown by his actions, such as bringing articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and being the only Democratic candidate in the 2008 election to have voted against invading Iraq, although eventual nominee Barack Obama had also opposed the Iraq War at the time it was started, even though he had not been in Congress at the time.
Because of redistricting following the 2010 state elections, Ohio's 9th congressional district absorbed part of Cuyahoga County, abolishing Kucinich's district and pitted him against 9th district incumbent Marcy Kaptur in the 2012 Democratic primary, which he lost.
Kucinich was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 8, 1946, as the eldest of the seven children of Frank and Virginia Kucinich. His father, a truck driver, was of Croat ancestry; his Irish American mother was a homemaker.
Growing up, his family moved 21 times and Dennis was often charged with the responsibility of finding apartments they could afford.
He attended Cleveland State University from 1967 to 1970. In 1973, he graduated from Case Western Reserve University with both a Bachelor and a Master of Arts degree in speech and communication. Kucinich was baptized a Roman Catholic. Kucinich married Sandra Lee McCarthy in 1977; they had a daughter named Jackie in 1981 and divorced in 1986. He married his third wife, Elizabeth Harper, a British citizen, on August 21, 2005.
The two met while Harper was working as an assistant for the Chicago-based American Monetary Institute, which brought her to Kucinich's House of Representatives office for a meeting.
Dennis was raised with four brothers, Larry, Frank, Gary and Perry; and two sisters, Theresa and Beth Ann. On December 19, 2007, Perry Kucinich, the youngest brother, was found dead in his apartment. On November 11, 2008, his youngest sister, Beth Ann Kucinich, also died.
Kucinich's political career began early. After running unsuccessfully in 1967, Kucinich was elected to the Cleveland City Council in 1969 at the age of twenty-three. In 1972, Kucinich ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives, losing narrowly to incumbent Republican William E.
Minshall, Jr. After Minshall's retirement in 1974 Kucinich sought the seat again, this time failing to get the Democratic nomination, which instead went to Ronald M. Mottl. Kucinich ran as an Independent candidate in the general election, placing third with about 30% of the vote. In 1975, Kucinich became clerk of the municipal court in Cleveland and served in that position for two years.
Kucinich was elected Mayor of Cleveland in 1977 and served in that position until 1979.
At thirty-one years of age, he was the youngest mayor of a major city in the United States, earning him the nickname "the boy mayor of Cleveland". Kucinich's tenure as mayor is often regarded as one of the most tumultuous in Cleveland's history. After Kucinich refused to sell Muni Light, Cleveland's publicly owned electric utility, the Cleveland mafia put out a hit on Kucinich. A hit man from Maryland planned to shoot him in the head during the Columbus Day Parade, but the plot fell apart when Kucinich was hospitalized and missed the event. When the city fell into default shortly thereafter, the mafia leaders called off the contract killer.
Specifically, it was the Cleveland Trust Company that suddenly required all of the city's debts be paid in full, which forced the city into default, after news of Kucinich's refusal to sell the city utility.
For years, these debts were routinely rolled over, pending future payment, until Kucinich's announcement was made public. In 1998 the Cleveland City Council honored him for having had the "courage and foresight" to stand up to the banks, which saved the city an estimated $195 million between 1985 and 1995.
After losing his re-election bid for Mayor to George Voinovich in 1979, Kucinich initially kept a low profile in Cleveland politics. He criticized a tax referendum proposed by Voinovich in 1980, which voters eventually approved. He also struggled to find employment and moved to Los Angeles, California, where he stayed with a friend, actress Shirley MacLaine. During the next three years, Kucinich worked as a radio talk-show host, lecturer, and consultant. It was a difficult period for Kucinich financially. Without a steady paycheck, Kucinich fell behind in his mortgage payments, nearly lost his house in Cleveland, and ended up borrowing money from friends, including MacLaine, to keep it. On his 1982 income tax return, Kucinich reported an income of $38. When discussing this period, Kucinich stated, "When I was growing up in Cleveland, my early experience conditioned me to hang in there and not to quit... It's one thing to experience that as a child, but when you have to as an adult, it has a way to remind you how difficult things can be. You understand what people go through."
In 1982, Kucinich moved back to Cleveland and ran for Secretary of State; however, he lost the Democratic primary to Sherrod Brown. In 1983, Kucinich won a special election to fill the seat of a Cleveland city councilman who had died. His brother, Gary Kucinich, was also a councilman at the time.
In 1985, there was some speculation that Kucinich might run for mayor again. Instead, his brother Gary ran against (and lost to) the incumbent Voinovich. Kucinich, meanwhile, gave up his council position to run for Governor of Ohio as an independent against Richard Celeste, but later withdrew from the race. After this, Kucinich, in his own words "on a quest for meaning," lived quietly in New Mexico until 1994, when he won a seat in the Ohio State Senate.
House of Representatives
In 1996, Kucinich was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 10th district of Ohio. He defeated two-term Republican incumbent Martin Hoke by three percentage points. However, he has never faced another contest nearly that close, and has since been re-elected six times.
2004 Presidential campaign
Kucinich was criticized during his 2004 campaign for changing his stance on the issue of abortion. His explanation was "I've always worked to make abortions less necessary, through sex education and birth control. But the direction that Congress has taken, increasingly, is to make it impossible for women to be able to have an abortion if they need to protect their health. So when I saw the direction taken, it finally came to the point where I understood that women will not be truly free unless they have the right to choose."
Ralph Nader praised Kucinich as "a genuine progressive", 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. However, Kucinich was unable to carry any states in the 2004 Democratic Primaries, and John Kerry eventually won the Democratic nomination at the Democratic National Convention.
2008 Presidential campaign
On December 11, 2006 in a speech delivered at Cleveland City Hall, Kucinich announced he would seek the nomination of the Democratic Party for President in 2008.
Until 2012, Kucinich had always been reelected to Congress by sound margins in his strongly Democratic-leaning districts, and had up until this election far won primary challenges against him for the Democratic nomination convincingly.
Kucinich defeated another Democratic primary challenger by a wide margin and defeated Republican Mike Dovilla in the general election with 66% of the vote.
His opponents included Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman and North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O'Grady. In February 2008 Kucinich raised around $50,000 compared to Cimperman's $228,000, but through a YouTube money raising campaign he managed to raise $700,000, surpassing Cimperman's $487,000.
Cimperman, who was endorsed by the Mayor of Cleveland and The Plain Dealer, criticized Kucinich for focusing too much on campaigning for president and not on the district. Kucinich accused Cimperman of representing corporate and real estate interests. Cimperman described Kucinich as an absentee congressman who failed to pass any major legislative initiatives in his 12-year House career. In an interview, Cimperman said he was tired of Kucinich and Cleveland being joke fodder for late-night talk-show hosts, saying "It's time for him to go home." An ad paid for by Cimperman's campaign stated that Kucinich has missed over 300 votes, but by checking the ad's source, the actual number was 139. However, Kucinich is well known for his constituency service.
A report suggested that representatives of Nancy Pelosi and American Israel Public Affairs Committee would "guarantee" Kucinich's re-election if he dropped his bid to impeach Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, though Kucinich denies the meeting happened. It was also suggested that Kucinich's calls for universal health care and an immediate withdrawal from Iraq made him a thorn in the side of the Democrats' congressional leadership, as well as his refusal to pledge to support the eventual presidential nominee, which he later reconsidered.
Kucinich took part in a debate with the other primary challengers. Barbara Ferris criticized him for not bringing as much money back to the district as other area legislators and authoring just one bill that passed during his 12 years in Congress. Kucinich responded "It was a Republican Congress and there weren't many Democrats passing meaningful legislation during a Republican Congress."
Kucinich won the primary, receiving 68,156 votes out of 135,589 cast to beat Cimperman 52% to 33%.
Kucinich defeated former State Representative Jim Trakas in the November 4, 2008 general election with 153,357 votes, 56.8% of those cast.
Kucinich defeated Republican nominee Peter J. Corrigan and Libertarian nominee Jeff Goggins in the November 2, 2010 general election with 101,343 votes, 53.1% of those cast.
Redistricting threw Kucinich into the same district as another Democratic incumbent, Marcy Kaptur. The two competed in the Democratic primary on March 6, 2012, but Kucinich lost after an increasingly bitter campaign. Kucinich had been endorsed by another House member, Barney Frank of Massachusetts.
Kucinich was mentioned frequently as a possible 2012 candidate for congress in the state of Washington, and even openly admitted exploring the idea, but ultimately decided against running and decided to retire from congress when his term ends in January 2013.
In 2003, Kucinich was the recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award, an annual award bestowed by the Religious Society of Friends-affiliated organization Promoting Enduring Peace.
After Kucinich lost to Marcy Kaptur in the 2012 Democratic primary, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said of Kucinich, "At the end of the day, we’re really going to miss Dennis. Dennis is a transformative leader. He stood up and spoke eloquently, passionately about Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran. He was a consistent voice for peace... He almost didn’t vote for the health care bill because it wasn’t good enough."
January 14, 2013