Kucinich’s Next Quixotic Move?

by Paul Hogarth on May 12, 2011

Ohio Congressman and perennial presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich sent an e-mail to his supporters yesterday – expressing concern that the upcoming re-districting could endanger his re-election, and he’s exploring options of running for Congress in another state (from Washington to Maine) if necessary. Emboldened by this news, some local progressives have suggested that Kucinich carpetbag to San Francisco – and run against Nancy Pelosi. If he follows this advice, it will be proof that Dennis Kucinich has fallen off the deep end. Left-wing challenges to Pelosi have never been successful (in 2008, California native Cindy Sheehan failed to break 20%), and Kucinich would not do much better. But this speaks to a bigger problem about Kucinich. Rather than use his seat in Congress to pressure colleagues for progressive change, Dennis Kucinich prefers to grandstand by being the lone dissenter on high-profile legislation – which does nothing but stroke his ego. This may explain why he’s always better at making quixotic bids for President – than doing his job.

For years, Dennis Kucinich has been a darling of left-wing progressives – who champion his principled votes against compromised legislation. But this profoundly misunderstands the power limits that House members – who are merely one vote out of 435 – have. Unlike Bernie Sanders, who used the flawed health care legislation to ensure it had some strong provisions, Kucinich made himself irrelevant to the conversation by voting against it.

Kucinich may be worried about his chances in 2012, but re-districting is not the only cause of his woes. Back in 2008, his second run for President – where he seemed a lot more interested in trumpeting his attractive wife – finally provoked a primary challenge, who raised the legitimate question of what Dennis Kucinich has done for his own district. In the end, the primary challenge is what convinced him to abandon his presidential bid.

Could Kucinich have a better shot than Pelosi’s past challengers? I doubt that the fact he is a sitting member of Congress will impress most voters interested in another option, and those who would support him are probably the ones who voted for her challengers in the past anyway. Cindy Sheehan got less than 20%. Kucinich will be lucky to break 25%.

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