Dennis John Kucinich (born October 8, 1946) was the U.S. Representative for Ohio's 10th congressional district, serving from 1997-2012. He was furthermore a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections.
The district includes most of western Cleveland as well as suburbs such as Parma and Lakewood. He is currently the chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He is also a member of the Education and Labor Committee.
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 has 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.
Due to redistricting by the Republican-controlled state legislature following the 2010 state elections, Ohio's 9th congressional district absorbed part of Cuyahoga County, abolishing Kucinich's district and pitting him against 9th district incumbent Marcy Kaptur in the 2012 Democratic primary, which he lost.
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In the aftermath of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Kucinich has called for the Federal Reserve System to be put under control of U.S. Treasury. Additionally, banks shall no longer be allowed to create money, putting an end to fractional-reserve banking. He cites Stephen Zarlenga as the initiator of that proposal.
Support for reinstating the Fairness Doctrine
Kucinich is also involved in efforts to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, requiring radio stations to give liberal and conservative points of view equal time, which he and other critics of talk radio argue is not presently the case. Fellow Democrat Maurice Hichney, Vermont's independent Senator Bernie Sanders, and others have joined him in this effort. Conservatives have criticized these plans, alleging that what they believe to be a liberal-dominated Hollywood, academia, new media, and mainstream media would not be subject to these regulations.
As mayor of Cleveland in the 1970s, Kucinich favored the city's existing Municipal Light System and opposed construction of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant and Perry Nuclear Power Plant on Lake Erie. Kucinich opposed a planned regional radioactive waste dump, and has long advocated renewable energy and efficient energy use.
In 2010 Kucinich stated that new nuclear reactors are not cost-effective, and that they are a slow way of meeting electricity needs as it takes five or six years for new reactors to come on line. He also said that new nuclear reactors are a risky way to meet electricity needs.
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.
Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign, 2008
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. His platform for 2008 included:
Creating a single-payer not-for-profit system of universal health care that provides full coverage for all Americans by passage of the United States National Health Care Act.
The immediate, phased withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq; replacing them with an international security force.
Guaranteed quality education for all; including free pre-kindergarten and college for all who want it.
Immediate withdrawal from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Immediate repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act.
Fostering a world of international cooperation.
Abolishing the death penalty.
Environmental renewal and clean energy.
Creating a moratorium on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO).
Implementation of H.R. 676, which integrates traditional medicine with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Ban offshore drilling.
Halt all Biochemical Aerial Spraying of Pesticides and other toxins.
Preventing the privatization of social security.
Providing full social security benefits at age 65.
Creating a cabinet-level "Department of Peace"
Ratifying the ABM Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol.
Introducing reforms to bring about instant-runoff voting.
Protecting a woman's "right to choose" while decreasing the number of abortions performed in the U.S.
Lowering the voting age to 16
Ending the War on Drugs.
Legalizing same-sex marriage.
Strongly promoting workers' rights.
Ending the H-1B and L-1 visa Programs
Restoring rural communities and family farms.
Strengthening gun control.
Legalizing medicinal marijuana and decriminalizing non-medical possession.
Kucinich described his stance on the issues as mainstream.
Kucinich told his supporters in Iowa that if he did not appear on the second ballot in any caucus that they should back Barack Obama:
"I hope Iowans will caucus for me as their first choice ... because of my singular positions on the war, on health care and trade," Kucinich said. "But in those caucus locations where my support doesn't reach the necessary threshold, I strongly encourage all of my supporters to make Barack Obama their second choice."
At a debate of Democratic presidential candidates in Philadelphia on October 30, 2007, NBC's Tim Russert cited a passage from a book by Shirley MacLaine in which the author writes that Kucinich had seen a UFO from her home in Washington State. Russert asked if MacLaine's assertion was true. Kucinich confirmed and emphasized that he merely meant he had seen an unidentified flying object, just as former US president Jimmy Carter has. Russert then cited a statistic that 14% of Americans say they have witnessed a UFO.
On November 16, 2007, Larry Flynt hosted a fundraiser for Kucinich at the Los Angeles-based Hustler-LFP headquarters, attended by Kucinich and his wife, which has drawn criticism from Flynt's detractors. Attendees included such notables as Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson, Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn, Melissa Etheridge, Tammy Etheridge, Stephen Stills, Kristen Stills, Frances Fisher, and Esai Morales. Campaign representatives declined to comment.
In December 2007, author Gore Vidal endorsed Kucinich for president.
Kucinich's 2008 presidential campaign was advised by a steering committee including Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) Founder Steve Cobble, long-time Kucinich press secretary Andy Junewicz, former RFK, McCarthy, Humphrey, McGovern and Carter political consultant Michael Carmichael, former Carter Fundraiser Marcus Brandon, Ani DiFranco Tour Manager Susan Alzner, West Point Graduate and former Army Captain Mike Klein, former Communications Director of Democrats Abroad Sharon Manitta and New Jersey-based political consultant Vin Gopal. The campaign was seen as a platform to push progressive issues into the Democratic Party, including a not-for-profit health care system, same-sex marriage, increasing the minimum wage, opposing capital punishment, and impeachment.
On Monday, January 7, 2008 actor Viggo Mortensen endorsed Kucinich's presidential campaign in New Hampshire. On Thursday, January 10, 2008, Kucinich asked for a New Hampshire recount based on discrepancies between the machine-counted ballots and the hand-counted ballots. He stated that he wanted to make sure "100% of the voters had 100% of their votes counted."
On Tuesday, January 15, 2008, Kucinich was "disinvited" from a Democratic presidential debate on MSNBC. A ruling that the debate could not go ahead without Kucinich was overturned on appeal. Kucinich later responded to the questions posed in the MSNBC debate in a show hosted by Democracy Now!
Kucinich dropped his bid for the Democratic nomination on Thursday, January 24, 2008, and did not endorse any other candidate. He later endorsed Barack Obama after he had won the nomination. On Friday, January 25, 2008, he made a formal announcement of the end of his campaign for president and his focus on reelection to Congress.
On August 27, 2008, he delivered a widely publicized speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Impeachment proceedings against Dick Cheney
On April 17, 2007, Kucinich sent a letter to his Democratic colleagues saying that he planned to file impeachment proceedings against Dick Cheney, then Vice President of the United States. Kucinich planned to introduce the impeachment articles on April 24, 2007, but in light of Cheney's visit to his doctor for an inspection of a blood clot, Kucinich decided to postpone the scheduled press conference "until the vice president's condition is clarified."
Kucinich held a press conference on the evening of April 24, 2007, revealing House Resolution 333 and the three articles of impeachment against Cheney. He charges Cheney with manipulating the evidence of Iraq's weapons program, deceiving the nation about Iraq's connection to al-Qaeda, and threatening aggression against Iran in violation of the United Nations charter. Kucinich opened his press conference by quoting from the Declaration of Independence, and stated: "I believe the Vice President's conduct of office has been destructive to the founding purposes of our nation. Today, I have introduced House Resolution 333, Articles of Impeachment Relating to Vice President Richard B. Cheney. I do so in defense of the rights of the American people to have a government that is honest and peaceful."
During the first Democratic Presidential debate at South Carolina State University, none of the other candidates' hands went up when the moderator, Brian Williams, asked if they would support Kucinich's plan to impeach Cheney. In response, Kucinich retrieved a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution from his coat and expressed the importance of protecting and defending constitutional principles.
This is a pocket copy of the Constitution which I carry with me, because I took an oath to defend the Constitution. We've spent a lot of time talking about Iraq here tonight and America's role in the world. This country was taken into war based on lies. This country was taken into war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda's role with respect to Iraq, which there wasn't one at the time we went in. I want to state that Mr. Cheney must be held accountable. He is already ginning up a cause for war against Iran. Now, we have to stand for this Constitution, we have to protect and defend this Constitution. And this vice president has violated this Constitution. So I think that while my friends on the stage may not be ready to take this stand, the American people should know that there's at least one person running for president who wants to reconnect America with its goodness, with its greatness, with its highest principles, which currently are not being reflected by those who are in the White House.
—Dennis Kucinich, New York Times, April 27, 2007
By January 29, 2008, 24 other Congressional representatives became cosponsors. Six of these were members of the House Judiciary Committee: Tammy Baldwin, Keith Ellison, Hank Johnson, Maxine Waters, Steve Cohen and Sheila Jackson-Lee. In addition, Congressman Robert Wexler, supported by Representatives Luis Gutierrez and Tammy Baldwin, began openly calling for impeachment hearings to begin.
Cheney impeachment articles introduced
On November 6, 2007, Kucinich used special parliamentary procedure and moved for a vote on impeaching the Vice President. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Pelosi opposed the measure and stood by previous comments that, "impeachment is not on our agenda," and they initially moved to table the bill. When that attempt failed, Mr. Hoyer quickly moved to refer the bill to the House Judiciary Committee. That motion succeeded.