WASHINGTON – Perhaps no other member of Congress has been willing to try to stop a war, impeach a vice president, admit seeing a UFO and run for president twice.
But Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has been the political left’s patron saint of lost causes. Now he faces perhaps his toughest crusade: finding his next job.
Kucinich, 65, lost a nasty primary Tuesday that pitted him against a one-time ally, fellow Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Redistricting all but eliminated Kucinich’s home turf.
Now the congressman, hailed as an “icon” of the left and a champion of the downtrodden, is a politician without a populace.
“Congress will be a weaker place without his voice,” said Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent who has known Kucinich for decades. “There is no question Dennis Kucinich has been a unique voice fighting for issues most other politicians would not go near.”
The small and hyperkinetic congressman returned to the Capitol on Wednesday to handshakes and slaps on the back, and spent the afternoon casting votes. He said he had no “Plan B” after his defeat, even though he had at one point scouted out running for the House from Washington state, in case his district was eliminated.
“I’m totally at peace and have a sense of equanimity about it,” Kucinich said in an interview.
Elected to the Cleveland City Council at age 23, Kucinich had a rough-and-tumble childhood that encouraged him to fight for the working class.
His colleagues said they couldn’t imagine the House without Kucinich.
“It’s going to be very boring,” said Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette, a Republican who once rode a bicycle built for two with Kucinich on “The Tonight Show.”