Jan 24, 2024 - News

Dennis Kucinich announces Ohio congressional campaign

Dennis Kucinich speaks at a lectern in Independence, Ohio. American flags behind him.

Dennis the Independent addresses the press in Independence, Ohio. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

One of the most familiar names in Northeast Ohio politics is back in action.

Driving the news: Dennis J. Kucinich, former mayor of Cleveland, congressman and two-time presidential candidate, announced on Wednesday his plans to run as an independent for Ohio's 7th House District.

Catch up quick: Kucinich, who was formerly a Democrat, served as mayor of Cleveland from 1977-1979. He's a populist folk hero in the region who still cites his successful battle to save Cleveland's Municipal Light system.

  • He represented Ohio's 10th House District from 1997-2013.
  • He ran and lost for Ohio governor in 2018 and Cleveland mayor in 2021.

What's happening: The current congressional race pits him against incumbent Republican Max Miller. Democrats Matthew Diemer and Doug Bugie are also running in the March 19 primary.

What they're saying: At a suburban civic center Wednesday morning, Kucinich said his campaign would focus on the economy and national security.

  • He said he believed his name recognition and track record in Ohio would pave his path to victory.

Between the lines: Kucinich most recently served as the campaign manager for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is running for president as an independent and has gained notoriety as a vaccine skeptic.

  • "Some of my friends are for Donald Trump," Kucinich said. "Some of my friends are for Joe Biden. Some of my friends are for Robert Kennedy. Me? I'm for my friends."

The intrigue: Kucinich articulated a policy platform that very well may have been called "America First."

  • "We have to pay attention to things here at home," he said.
  • He criticized U.S. entanglements abroad, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and a commitment to peace.
  • "We should not be going around the globe looking for dragons to slay," he said, recalling his warnings in the wake of 9/11 against a war in Iraq.

The big picture: When asked if U.S. foreign policy was the main driver in his decision to run as an independent, Kucinich said that was just one piece of the puzzle.

  • He said it was critical to understand the link between the American economy and American wars abroad.

The bottom line: "I represented over 20 Cuyahoga communities in this district for 16 years," he said.

  • "This time, only my name will be on the ballot. I have a bond of trust with the voters which goes far beyond party labels."

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