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Nichols writes: "Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a two-time presidential candidate who for the past decade has been the most consistent critic of war and militarism in the US House of Representatives, was defeated Tuesday in a Democratic primary that pitted him against fellow progressive Marcy Kaptur."

Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich. (photo: Abstract Plain/Flickr-Creative)
Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich. (photo: Abstract Plain/Flickr-Creative)

What America Lost When Dennis Kucinich Lost

By John Nichols, Common Dreams

07 March 12


hio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a two-time presidential candidate who for the past decade has been the most consistent critic of war and militarism in the U.S. House of Representatives, was defeated Tuesday in a Democratic primary that pitted him against fellow progressive Marcy Kaptur.

Kucinich was the first electoral victim of the current round of redistricting, which saw congressional districts redrawn in states across the country after the 2010 Census.  A Republican governor and legislature carved up northern Ohio districts with an eye toward eliminating at least one Democratic seat, and they achieved their goal by forcing Kucinich and Kaptur into the same district.

That district favored Kaptur and, after a hard-fought race she prevailed by a 56-39 margin, with the remainder going to a third candidate.

Though the race in Ohio's 9th District received scant attention compared with the Republican presidential contest in the state, the result will have national consequences.

A Congress without Dennis Kucinich will be a lesser branch. It's not just that the loss of the former leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus will rob the House of its most consistent critic of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and one its steadiest critics of corporate power.

Kucinich has since he arrived on the Hill in 1997 been one of a handful of absolutely engaged members. When issues have arisen, be it domestic or international, low profile or high, Kucinich has been at the ready - often with the first statement, the strongest demand and the boldest plan.

A master of parliamentary procedure, and a Constitutional purist, Kucinich has given Democratic and Republican congressional leaders their share of headaches. And he has been more than willing to break with Democratic and Republican presidents on matters of principle. But even as he frustrated the most powerful players in Washington, Kucinich won an enthusiastic base of supporters who backed him for the Democratic presidential nominations in 2004 and 2008.

Though he never got near the nomination in either year, Kucinich earned high marks for forcing the other contenders to address fundamental issues of war and peace, civil liberties and trade policy. At the same time, he remained sufficiently in touch with his blue-collar Cleveland area district - turf that had previously elected a Republican - to keep his seat in the face of primary and general election challenges from candidate backed by the political and media elites that had been after Kucinich since his days as the uncompromising "boy mayor" of Cleveland.

Had his district remained intact, Kucinich would have won Tuesday's primary. But the 2010 election put Republican Governor John Kasich and his conservative allies in charge of the Ohio redistricting process. With encouragement from House Speaker John Boehner, they targeted Kucinich from the start. Everyone knew Kucinich was threatened, and the congressman even entertained the prospect of moving to Washington state, where he has long been a favorite of progressive activists and where population shifts had created an open seat that might be friendly to his ambitions.

Ultimately, however, Kucinich opted for a race in a redrawn Ohio district that included portions of his Cleveland base. The district also included Toledo, the home of Congresswomen Kaptur, a Democrat with whom Kucinich had frequently allied over the years.

Kucinich and Kaptur have both served in Congress as outsiders, members of the Progressive Caucus, with records of opposing wars, free-trade deals and economic policies that favor the one percent over the 99 percent. Both have 95 percent AFL-CIO records. Both have 100 percent ACLU records.

There were, to be sure, distinctions. Kucinich, who for many years voted with opponents of reproductive rights, switched his position before the 2004 presidential election and ran this year as the more socially liberal contender. Kaptur,  the longest-serving woman in the House and a champion of many feminist causes, was ranked as "mixed choice" by NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Kucinich was always the purest anti-war champion, and he made a point of highlighting that in the race with Kaptur, a ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee who the Cleveland congressman argued should have done much more to cut the Pentagon budget.

But Kaptur, who came to national prominence as an outspoken foe of the 2008 bank bailout, emerged as a national hero of union and community activists who shared her determination to "bust the banksters." She was a star of the film "Capitalism, a Love Story," in which she told filmmaker Michael Moore that the 2008 bailout was a "a financial coup d'etat."

Kaptur's boldness in opposing the big banks and Wall Street, as well as her passionate advocacy on behalf organized labor, would have been missed, as well, in a Congress that needs all the economic populists it can get.

But losing Kucinich will be hard. In some of the toughest days for the American experiment as a Republican administration plotted to wage a war of whim in Iraq, Democratic "leaders" stood down. It was Dennis Kucinich who spoke up for peace and who kept speaking up with a determination that gave hope to activists across the United States and around the world.

The Republican mapmakers in Oho may have drawn Dennis Kucinich out of his district, and out of Congress. But they will not draw him out of the history of these times. Indeed, when the story of America in the first years of the 21st century is told, Dennis Kucinich will be remembered as the rare member of Congress who opposed wars that could not be justified, who defended rights that could not be surrendered, who demanded accountability from the presidents and vice presidents who could not be allowed to have their way with the republic. your social media marketing partner


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+91 # DavePrice 2012-03-07 11:21
He lost a race, he didnt die. Kucinich will run again because he actually cares about his constituents and was not crying in glee, at the Corporate Money Trough.
+58 # AndreM5 2012-03-07 14:25
Ohio needs to impeach its miserable governor, after which Kucinich should run to fill the void.
+81 # lark3650 2012-03-07 12:05
My father always told me to stand up for what you believe is right even if you have to stand alone. That is what Dennis did! Dennis is committed to truth and justice...I agree with Dave....he'll still be out there doing what he believes is right.
+35 # noitall 2012-03-07 13:29
The people get the government they deserve! Until people realize that an ignorant vote is a vote against their own interests, we will have a congress that, via 20/20 hindsight, SUCKS!
+53 # bugbuster 2012-03-07 13:42
It sounds more like he got redistricted out of his seat by the GOP.

I say, fear not. The pendulum has swung to the right, but pendulums always swing back.
+35 # madams12 2012-03-07 14:11
Apparently 'noitall' has MISSED the key reason why Kucinich lost despite his many years of REAL representative service for his constituents... this was not about anyone casting an "ignorant vote"....or voted against its own interests...THI S was but ANOTHER example of GO-Pee DIRTY TRICKS REDISTRICTING a district that was a thorn in their side. PITTING two GREAT Democrats against one another was the issue here NOT ignorant voters. cliches do not compensate for not reading the whole article. ahem.
+1 # Capn Canard 2012-03-09 08:35
madams12, well said. I agree that this was GOP subterfuge pitting two good Dems against one another. SOP.
+52 # LegacyCost 2012-03-07 13:41
I visited Congressman Kucinich's district office in advance of the PPACA vote with other advocates for more universal converage in healthcare. What stood out at that visit was Denni's staff working diligently on the behalf of individual constituent issues. He is a rare politician and one I hope finds a way back to congress!
+17 # pbbrodie 2012-03-07 13:59
I nearly dropped my socks when I rad "pitted him against fellow progressive Marcy Kaptur." What planet are you from? If you believe Marcy Kaptur is a progressive, you must believe the Republican Party is progressive. There is might little difference between her and Republican Congressmen. Also, she ran a very negative campaign filled with lies and innuendo that was paid for primarily by corporate lobbyists and their ilk,
+55 # lcarrier 2012-03-07 14:22
I'll support Dennis Kucinich any time he runs again--any time.
0 # MylesJ 2012-03-07 14:29
So now can we make progress on the Kucinich - Paul ticket? Things those two agreed on would probably be good for the whole country.
-13 # Martintfre 2012-03-07 14:35
Having run as a natural Law candidate years ago in Cleveland area - We all signed registers and were giving our speaking times in order we signed .. except Dennis - he walked in late and was unapologeticly the next guy on the stage.

Personally I did not appreciate the smug arrogance;
but, My personal distaste did not sour my appreciation of a fellow traveler with Ron Paul who was opposed to the endless wars and the endless red ink gushing unaccountably forth from the FED no matter what party was in charge.
+17 # freeone 2012-03-07 15:29
I hope this puts Kusich into the VP office so he can be POTUS in 2016.
+20 # HerbR 2012-03-07 15:59
Dear Dennis, you are now liberated from the constraints of having to serve one constituency. We expect that you'll strengthen your voice on behalf of all of us everywhere, besides teaching some things to your successor about the new way of being a Representative.
Best wishes
+35 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-03-07 16:11
THANK YOU Rep. Kucinich for ALL you have done for us (U.S.A.)
+34 # Stephen 2012-03-07 16:23
Kucinich is a giant among progressives and all who value peace and freedom and fairness. Let's hope this is the beginning of a new phase for him.
+4 # Billy Bob 2012-03-07 17:17
So let me get this straight...

Kucinich faced a primary but Obama won't?

I don't know what to add to that.
+12 # ozonekid 2012-03-07 17:27
I live in Western Washington State, and was thrilled when Rep. Kucinich was testing the idea of moving out here and running for the House from the new district. I live in the 6th CD, for 18 terms represented by mainstream Democrat Norm Dicks, who announced his retirement a few days ago. I don't think Democrats will prevail either in the 6th CD or the new one, the 10th. Norm was a good representative for the largely conservative electorate, an old school Democrat and protege of the mighty Warren Magnuson. The jobs he kept here are life support for the region, as the timber industry has moved on to exploiting foreign forests. I hope Dennis keeps the idea on the back burner, because after this part of the State goes red, the suffering of the working class will certainly increase.
+4 # RLF 2012-03-08 06:17
I learned my lesson with Obama being GOP in all but name. I'll vote Kucinich or socialist next time.

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