Dennis Kucinich’s candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Ohio is already attracting widespread statewide and national attention. News analysis is focusing intently on the real prospect that Kucinich could be Ohio’s next Governor. His announcement of multiple economic planks in his platform, and his choice of Akron Councilwoman Tara Samples as his running mate, has resulted in an avalanche of news coverage which has dominated the Governor’s race as candidates head toward a February 7th filing deadline.
The reemergence of Kucinich and his life-long themes of cooperation, unity, diversity and inclusiveness seem the perfect antidote to a period fraught with polarization, social disintegration and disunity . Kucinich’s ability to attract people from across the political spectrum has been a key to his success. Kucinich supporters hope that a candidacy that rallies working people, progressives, people of color and young voters would renew a moribund Ohio Democratic party. Mrs. Samples, as a candidate for Lt. Governor on the Kucinich ticket, would become the first African American Democrat ever elected to state office in the 215-year history of the State of Ohio.
Dennis Kucinich’s life has been the story of success through persistence, while constantly defying the odds. He rose from poverty by working as a custodian’s assistant, a stock boy, a newspaper carrier, a caddy, a sports correspondent, a part-time sportswriter, a newspaper copyboy, a hospital orderly, a surgical technician, and a financial news proofreader—all before he began his political career.
Kucinich’s penchant for beating the odds has made him a proponent of “possibility thinking,” which involves a deep inquiry into any challenging situation or condition, envisioning and discovering alternative outcomes and creatively calling forth and establishing new conditions enabling positive change.
He has applied this approach to his chosen career of government service. Elected to Cleveland city council at age 23, Kucinich intervened to save parks, recreation facilities, libraries, fire stations, residential areas, and even Lake Erie from schemes and half-baked plans --- all in situations where others saw defeat as a foregone conclusion.
His spirited, energetic approach emboldened him to challenge Cleveland’s entire political and financial establishment when it attempted to sell the city’s publicly-owned electric system, Cleveland Municipal Power (“Muny Light”), to a giant utility monopoly, which charged a great deal more for electricity. With the agreement of sale already negotiated and signed, Kucinich launched a David and Goliath issue-oriented petition and political effort to reverse the sale. The campaign catapulted him into the Mayor’s office as an independent candidate, defeating an incumbent Republican Mayor and the dominant local Democratic party.
An epic battle began, as Kucinich and his youthful administration challenged an entrenched political class which ran City Hall for its own narrow interests. Kucinich’s first act in office was to cancel the sale of Muny Light. Muny Light, though rescued from oblivion by Kucinich, became an issue yet again when the city’s largest bank demanded its sale to the same utility monopoly of which the bank was part-owner. The pressure to sell the electric system was extraordinary. Kucinich refused.
All the while, as mayor, Kucinich cut city spending by 10% without reducing services, an ran city government on a cash basis.
Kucinich’s refusal to sell Muny Light was vindicated, and his career resurrected, 15 years later, when the people of Cleveland recognized that by not selling Muny Light, Kucinich had saved the consumers millions of dollars. In recognition of his courage in refusing to sell, voters elected Kucinich to the Ohio Senate and then to eight consecutive terms in the United States Congress.
In the Ohio Senate, he used his creative and quick thinking to organize a powerful effort stop a radioactive nuclear dump from being established in the Buckeye state.
Kucinich’s work in Congress was marked by an ability to build coalitions across party and ideological lines. His political independence brought him to challenge his own party on a number of major issues, including military spending, war and health care.
Kucinich was the principal author of several landmark pieces of legislation, including Medicare for All, and the National Emergency Employment Defense Act (a monetary policy, infrastructure and jobs bill), as well as bills to label and safety test genetically engineered foods and a Universal Pre-Kindergarten bill. He helped save the International Space Station and worked to protect the Clean Water Act and organic food standards.
Kucinich championed diplomacy and conflict resolution. He worked with Republicans to fashion a peace agreement in the Balkans which became the model for the G-8 nations. He helped lead efforts against wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Kucinich’s tireless work for peace resulted in him being the recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award, the Cranbrook Peace Prize and the Peace Abbey Award.
Kucinich has been a university speech instructor and an assistant professor. He has worked in international sales and in the marketing of computer software, established his own communications and television production firm, was guest host on talk radio, and on-air talent and political analyst for a local TV station. He has been a national TV news contributor, a newspaper columnist, a public speaker and is the author of three books, including The Courage to Survive, A Prayer for America (a collection of speeches) and The Division of Light and Power, which is expected to be published in 2019.
In 2005, Kucinich experienced the miracle of love at first sight when he and Elizabeth Harper of London met in Washington, DC and were married a few short months later. The couple has a strong spiritual basis to their union. Elizabeth Kucinich lectures internationally on regenerative agro-ecology, reversing desertification and land restoration as ways to ameliorate global climate change.
Dennis Kucinich looks to the future optimistically, with the same enthusiasm and possibility thinking which, many years ago, placed him on the St. John Cantius varsity football team, as a 4’ 9”, 97 lb, quarterback, equipped with courage and a desire to participate, which continues to spark the passion of the man who is now a senior statesman, well prepared to meet the challenges which arise every day, ready to be the next Governor of Ohio.